Kentucky News from Edwin Kagin

KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: November 28, 2008

Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 666, Union, KY 41091; Email: [email protected]

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

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(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.)

What Is An ATHEIST?

“ANOTHER THINKING HUMAN ENGAGED IN SEEKING TRUTH” (Edwin Kagin, 2008)

To Unidentified Recipients:

American Atheists now has official pages on MySpace and Facebook.

If you are a member of Facebook or MySpace we would be honored if you sent us a Friend Request!

MySpace: http://myspace.com/americanatheists
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51502800791

ACTION ALERT:

Please note, heed, and react to the following outrageous situation in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Anyone who is a resident of Kentucky and might be interested in being a plaintiff in a major legal challenge to this attempt to establish religion in Kentucky is invited to contact me.

You are also encouraged to write letters to members of the Kentucky Legislature, the Governor of Kentucky, and to Kentucky newspapers.

See: http://www.lrc.ky.gov

For other resources, see: www.edwinkagin.com

Edwin.

Edwin Kagin
National Legal Director
American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 666
Union, KY 41091
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (859) 384-7000
Fax: (859) 384-7324

————————————————————————

http://www.kentucky.com/471/story/608641.html

Posted on Fri, Nov. 28, 2008
Kentucky law requires Homeland Security credit God
The Associated Press
Kentucky’s Homeland Security office must publicize God’s benevolent protection of the state in its reports under the 2006 law that organized the department.
Under the law, Homeland Security’s religious duties come before anything else the department does, including distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and analyzing possible threats.
The law lists the office’s initial duty as “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”
State Rep. Tom Riner of Louisville, who pushed for the religious requirement, told The Lexington Herald-Leader it was appropriate because government alone cannot protect the state.
State Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington said the religious requirement takes away from the department’s mission.
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com
© 2008 Kentucky.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
http://www.kentucky.com/181/story/608229.html

Posted on Fri, Nov. 28, 2008
Anti-terror law requires God be acknowledged
By John Cheves
[email protected]
Under state law, God is Kentucky’s first line of defense against terrorism.
The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”
Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God’s benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”
State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago.
As amended, Homeland Security’s religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.
The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.
“This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky,” Riner said. “Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government.”
Nonetheless, it is government that operates the Office of Homeland Security in Frankfort, with a budget this year of about $28 million, mostly federal funds. And some administrations are more religious than others.
Under previous Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a lay Baptist preacher, Homeland Security interpreted the law at face value, prominently crediting God in its annual reports to state leaders and posting the required plaque.
Under Gov. Steve Beshear, officials this week said they didn’t know about the plaque until the Herald-Leader called to ask whether it’s still there. (They checked; it is.) The 2008 Homeland Security report, issued a month ago, did not credit God, but it did complain about a decline in federal funding from Washington.
Thomas Preston, Beshear’s Homeland Security chief, said he isn’t interested in stepping into a religious debate, and he hasn’t given this part of his duties much thought.
“I will not try to supplant almighty God,” Preston said. “All I do is try to obey the dictates of the Kentucky General Assembly. I really don’t know what their motivation was for this. They obviously felt strongly about it.”
There is no reference to God in Homeland Security’s current mission statement or on its Web site, which displeases Riner.
“We certainly expect it to be there, of course,” Riner said.
But state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said Homeland Security should worry about public safety threats instead of preaching religious homilies.
“It’s very sad to me that we do this sort of thing,” said Stein, a frequent critic of efforts to mix religion and government. “It takes away from the seriousness of the public discussion over security, and it clearly hurts the credibility of this office if it’s supposed to be depending on God, first and foremost.”
© 2008 Kentucky.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kentucky.com

—————————————————————————————————————–

Here is the relevant Kentucky Law:

39G.010 Kentucky Office of Homeland Security executive director — Duties — Delegation of duties — Notification of disaster or emergency.

(1) The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security shall be attached to the Office of the Governor and shall be headed by an executive director appointed

by the Governor.

(2) The executive director shall:

(a) Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by

including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for

prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3). . . . .

And KRS 39A.285 (3) says:

39A.285 Legislative findings.

The General Assembly hereby finds that:

(1) No government by itself can guarantee perfect security from acts of war or terrorism.

(2) The security and well-being of the public depend not just on government, but rest in large measure upon individual citizens of the Commonwealth and their level of understanding, preparation, and vigilance.

(3) The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic

March 30, 1863, Presidential Proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security

speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’ ”

Effective: March 28, 2002
History: Created 2002 Ky. Acts ch. 82, sec. 2, effective March 28, 2002.

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

Go Prez!

American Atheist President Ed Buckner exchanges electrons with a writer who, in the battle of wits, goes largely unarmed.

Just how should one answer a person who calls them a “weasel worder?”

I do not think C.S. Lewis would have cared much for this Paul person.

This hostile control freak is welcome to design his own symbols and start his own organization.

What is truly frightening is that these people are permitted to vote and to sit on juries.

Try to get all of the sane people you know to join American Atheists while they still can.

For your own safety’s sake.

Edwin.

———————————————————

Well, Paul, you’re making me see red–see below for an example or two. But you’re not making enough sense to be worth continuing to “exchange” thoughts with. (Fiercely asserted assertions don’t count for much.) I’ve read Mere Christianity and found it singularly unpersuasive. Please let us not waste each other’s time any further–please don’t reply until and unless you can keep a civil tongue in your head, as my mother–a big fan of Mere Christianity, for what that’s worth–used to say.

Ed B.
——————————————————-
On Nov 26, 2008, at 6:06 PM, Paul Trombley wrote:
Let’s try this again, Ed: You think that materialism is true and that atheism is entailed by it. Right? Ok, so, if you were disabused of your materialism or were shown that (gasp) it’s false, then you’d start believing in a god. That’s the structure and the content of your thought, isn’t it?
 
Now, if you abandoned your materialism right now, what then would you have? Well, before you came around to theism you’d have an amoral, rudderless belief in nothing, and probably an aversion to any suggestion that there is an objective right and wrong. Isn’t that right? And since you aren’t trained in philosophy you’d be groping in the dark throughout the experience and flip-flopping around from one vague idea to the next.
 
Ever heard of C.S. Lewis, author of Mere Christianity? He indicates that before his conversion to Christianity he was an atheist like your selves, thinking: either (1) there is a creator god  or a ruler god or (2) materialism is true, and, furthermore, since materialism (in your view) is true, all religions are wrong all through. But you haven’t let Jesus into your heart yet, so all you really have (apart from the unsubstantiated exclusive disjunction) is epistemic nihilism. That, nihilism, is the real agenda and goal of AA. So the comment “not all the answers are in” is misleading, for you think that no matter what the subject, the answers aren’t and won’t ever be in. The trouble with Lewis is that even after his conversion, he was still slippery, as reading the preface and just a few pages of that book reveals. You’ll be the same way if you convert.
 
So, do you believe that there is an objective right and wrong (whether grounded on absolutist, consequentialist, or other grounds)? Do you believe in anything…anything at all..other than repeating insipid rhetoric about free inquiry? Or are you just a weasel worder who refuses to take a stand on anything but wishy-washy uncertainty? In fact, you have an embarrasing motive for your nihilism. That motive is just pride, Ed. You find it irksome to suppose that you have ever done something seriously wrong or have a character flaw, so you run what amounts to Nihilistic American Materialists. Pride is also what keeps you from changing the logo.
 
You wrote that your “symbol is…not intended…to be a depiction of how electrons work”, but that comment, too, was mealy-mouthed claptrap. The “atomic whirl” is a depiction–an innaccurate, irresponsible one–of how electrons were once thought to work. Your self-absorbed, idiosyncratic thinking to the contrary doesn’t change that fact, and you are simply instilling a false and misleading impression in the minds of people who don’t know any better than to look to you for guidance. Now, if the “atomic whirl” is not meant to depict how electrons work, then why don’t you change the logo to a tree or an automobile wheel and then claim that that isn’t supposed to depict how electrons work? Scientists study trees, and engineers make use of scientific discoveries. So you’d still get to claim that it’s meant to suggest or evoke ideas and commentary. Even better, pines and spruces have the shape of an ‘A’, and you could just put a subscript below it to indicate nationality. Or you could make the logo a montage of a microscope, the fundamental theorem of calculus, and a book. Wouldn’t that evoke commentary and suggest the spirit of inquiry? Well, yes. But you don’t change the logo, and the reason is obvious: You want to evoke materialism and equate it with atheism (which itself doesn’t entail materialism). This is how I know that your reply is deceitful nonsense.
 
Ed, the world does not need your amorality, your nihilism, your slippery rhetoric, or your misguided materialism. Please do the right thing: Shut down your operation.
 
By the way, my own position is irrelevant for the purpose of determining the position of AA, or rather, the postion of American Materialists, and the reason for my inquiry (1) is that you invited it by publishing an e-mail address, and (2) is evident from the questions which you didn’t answer. Why can’t you comprehend that?
 
Thanks,
 
Paul

————————————————————— 

From: prez buckner
To: Paul Trombley
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 9:51:38 PM
Subject: Re: a few questions: please reply

Paul Trombley,

Our philosophies vary somewhat, but most of us could reasonably be called materialists, in the sense a philosopher would use the term. We like the term “Atheist” just fine, however, and don’t our think our name mis-describes us at all. We find no evidence or logic that supports any beliefs in any gods, including those alluded to in the Christian Bible. If you want more than that, I suggest you spend a few days browsing our website and reading any of the many fine books from Atheist Press (you might start with Atheism Advanced by David Eller–which I’m now reading and enjoying). If you have any serious follow-up questions, please include a synopsis of your own position and your reason(s) for your inquiries.

Our symbol is a symbol–not intended, of course, to be a depiction of how electrons work, but rather intended to evoke or suggest ideas and commentary:

THE AMERICAN ATHEISTS SYMBOL
An international symbol for Atheism has long been needed. When American Atheists was formed in 1963, a contemporary scientific symbol was chosen; this acknowledges that only through the use of scientific analysis and free, open inquiry can humankind reach out for a better life.

Recognizing the new atomic era, but also emphasizing the truths of older scientific findings, the atomic whirl was chosen. The atom is still a distinguishing unit of all matter, the smallest particle of an element that can exist and still retain the properties of that element.

You may notice that one of the orbital in our symbol is broken, or open-ended. This demonstrates that while Atheists rely on the scientific method for learning about the cosmos and increasing our knowledge about nature, we know that “not all of the answers are in.” We recognize that with new knowledge come new questions and areas for human inquiry and exploration.

That open orbital forms an “A” to represent Atheism. The small letter in the center represents of the first letter of the country in which an affiliated group is located. In our case, the “A” signifies American, and the symbol thus represents American Atheists.

Be well,

Ed B.
Ed Buckner
President
American Atheists
www.atheists.org
[email protected]

—————————————————————-

On Nov 20, 2008, at 8:33 PM, Paul Trombley wrote:

> Hello, AA.
>  
> Please clarify your conception of atheism.
>  
> (1) Does the management of American Atheists believe more or less as follows?
>  
> (P1) If materialism is true, then there is no god such as that of Genesis 1:1.
> (P2) Materialism is true.
> (C) Therefore, there is no god such as that of Genesis 1:1.
>  
> Furthermore, does the management of AA believe that if given P1 above, then if materialism were not true, then it would not be true that there is no god such as that of Genesis 1:1?
>  
> (2) Does AA believe that either materialism or theism (as of Gen. 1:1) must be true? and that there are no other options available to the ontologist?
>  
> (3) Are the management and staff of American Atheists basically materialists (in the philosopher’s sense of the term) and atheists second such that a more accurate name for AA would be “American Materialists”?
>  
> (4) Why does AA use as its logo a  depiction of the planetary hypothesis of electron orbits? Is that how electrons really work or is it misleading? Wasn’t that conception rejected during the lifetime of Rutherford? College-level physics and chemistry textbooks published as long as 20 years ago did not use such a depiction but rather the concept of a cloud. Does AA think that incorrect?
>  
> Thanks,
>  
> Paul
>
>  
>
> —– Forwarded Message —-
> From: Paul Trombley
> To: [email protected]
> Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:49:10 AM
> Subject: refutation of Aquinas’ five ways and other questions
>
> Dr. Buckner,
>  
> Do you know of a succinct refutation of each of Aquinas’ five ways (in Latin: quinque viae) of proving the existence of God? If so, please let me know. Wikipedia has a short introduction the five ways at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinquae_viae.
>  
> Also, why does AA use as its logo a depiction of the planetary hypothesis of electron orbits? Rutherford, as I recall, advocated it, but it was shown to be inadequate to explain atomic behavior. Of course, there is also the concept of orbitals (s, p, d, f,…) to describe the wave-like character of electron orbits.
>  
> Finally, did O’Hair believe that atheism entails materialism, the doctrine that matter is the only reality or the foundation of reality, or something akin to either of these ideas?
>  
> Thanks,
>  
> Paul
>

And then we have this exchange, which should be helpful to many of our readers who doubtless encounter similar inquiries.

However, we still await Mr. Ed Buckner’s proof, if any he has to offer or can offer, that there are not two invisible unicorns at Camp Quest.

Edwin.

————————————————

On Nov 28, 2008, at 3:14 PM, Nathan Smith wrote:

> Dear Sir, or Mrs.
>  
> It has come to my attention that nothing on your site has any proof
> to disproving the existence of God. How would you explain to someone
> who used the Ontological Argument against your theories? that’s all
> you have are theories. That’s all Evolution is, a theory. Descartes
> provided the existence of the external world very well, by saying
> that; 1. God exists, 2. as All-Perfect God is truthful, and cannot
> deceive, 3. we have a natural belief in the external world, 4.
> Therefore, since God cannot be a deceiver, our natural belief in the
> external world MUST be true. How do you respond to something like
> that? Descartes also said that we (humans) must make a wager. Heads,
> God exists. Tails, God does not exist. If you say why must you wager,
> you must; your life will reflect your choice. This is how it comes
> down, If God exists, Atheists=Infinite Loss, Theists=Infinite Gain. If
> God does not exist, Atheists GAIN NOTHING. Theists LOSE NOTHING. I
> thank you for your time. please reply if possible.
>  
>
>                                                                        
>                                                        Sincerely,
>
>                                                                        
>                                                 Nathan Smith

———————————————

Mr. Smith,

You need to work on both your logical thinking and on your knowledge of the history of philosophy. You cannot prove, no matter how hard you try, that the 5,000 cubic meters at the core of the planet Mars is not made of low grade uranium mixed 50/50 with popcorn salt–but that hardly counts as evidence that the proposition is true, does it?

And, while Descartes did draw some of the conclusions you cite (his conclusions have been refuted long since), it was actually Blaise Pascal who is famous for the bogus wager you propose (though he didn’t originate it, either–see below). I’d suggest you do some reading–start with David Eller’s excellent recent book from American Atheist Press, Atheism Advanced–and some critical thinking.

You can also consider a very short essay I wrote on the subject years ago–I’ve pasted it in below.

Read. Think.

Regards,

Ed B.
Ed Buckner
President
American Atheists
www.atheists.org
[email protected]

———————————————

“Why not believe in God, since the only way you lose is by not
believing?”

The short-hand description for the claim behind this question is
“Pascal’s Wager.” Blaise Pascal, French philosopher and mathematician
of the 1600s, gets credit for this one, though it probably was asked in
various forms long before him. The essential claim is that we should
all believe in God, since not believing can cause us to go to Hell if
we’re wrong, while believing is harmless if we happen to be wrong in
doing so.

There are many problems with this claim so there are many answers to
the question:

·        It’s not really a fifty/fifty choice at all. There are
thousands of religions/gods, and presumably you’d have to pick the
right one if there is a right one. So your odds are thousands to one
against you, no matter what the truth is.

·        Belief is not really something you can simply choose to have
or not have. Any omniscient god worth his salt would know if you were
just pretending to believe, and surely that would void your contract,
as it were. Sincere belief can only be held by someone who has been
convinced (by evidence, emotion, or just by not questioning what one
was taught as a child).

·        There is in fact a great deal to lose by believing in a
non-existent god: aside from time and money wasted in religious
activities, self-delusion can be quite destructive, potentially leading
to many mistakes, lack of self-reliance, and considerable unhappiness
in one’s life. If we only have one life, we can make the best of it
only by recognizing that.

·        And my favorite answer, initially implausible but in fact no
more illogical than Pascal’s Wager: What if “God” in her almighty
wisdom only wants to have in her heaven (to keep her company and
entertain her) curious, skeptical, intelligent beings? People who are
wise enough to not accept her existence without good reasons or
evidence? Then, of course, all of us secular humanists and freethinkers
will be “in” while D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson
will only make it if they are in fact charlatans who don’t really
believe any of the baloney they peddle.

For more on the subject, see Section II, pp. 55-104, in An Anthology of
Atheism and Rationalism, edited by Gordon Stein and published by
Prometheus Books, 1980.

————————————-

Atheist News from Edwin Kagin

KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: November 26, 2008.

Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 666, Union, KY 41091; Email: [email protected]

Phone: 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

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(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.)

What Is An ATHEIST?

“ANOTHER THINKING HUMAN ENGAGED IN SEEKING TRUTH” (Edwin Kagin, 2008)

To Unidentified Recipients:

Y’all come, y’hear.

Edwin.

———————————————————————————————–

AMERICAN ATHEISTS ~ WINTER SOLSTICE
BASH & OPEN HOUSE UPDATE…
http://www.atheists.org/wintersolstice.html
 
 
DOWNEY, KAGIN, TABASH, ZINDLER ON ROSTER FOR WINTER SOLSTICE BASH,
CENTER OPEN HOUSE!
(AND DID WE MENTION FUNNY MAN MICHAEL WEISS?)
 
AMERICAN ATHEISTS will host it annual Winter Solstice Bash and Open House Friday, Dec. 12 and Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008  Events include:
 
* Dedication of the EDDIE TABASH CONFERENCE AND MEDIA STUDIO on Friday, coincident with an Open House at the American Atheist Center, 225 Cristiani St. in Cranford, NJ.  We honor First Amendment activist Eddie Tabash with this state-of-the-art multimedia facility for meetings, social events, video taping, web casting, live press conferences and other outreach events.  The Open House runs from 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM, with the ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 PM.  The event is open to the public.  
 
* Tours of the newly remodeled CHARLES E. STEVENS AMERICAN ATHEISTS LIBRARY & ARCHIVES.  This collection includes approximately 25,000 volumes of rare and current books covering the history of Atheism, Freethought, religion and related topics, along with nearly one million periodicals, pamphlets, letters, documents and other items.  It is the largest private holding of such materials in the country, and perhaps the world.
 
* The WINTER SOLSTICE 2008 BASH will be held at the nearby Crowne Plaza Hotel, 20 Valley Road in Clark, NJ, beginning at 11:30 AM on Saturday, December 13, 2008.  At 4:00 PM, you’re invited back to the American Atheist Center for a live taping of The Atheist Viewpoint show.  Host David Silverman will MC the Winter Solstice bash which includes a lavish buffet-style lunch ($34/person),  Register on-line at http://www.atheists.org/wintersolstice.html.  Make reservations with the Crowne Plaza Hotel directly and take advantage of our special rate at 732-574-0100. Be sure to mention that you are with American Atheists to qualify for the rate!  Deadline for guaranteed reservations is November 27, so book now!
 
* Join us for a blockbuster lineup of speakers and distinguished guests this weekend, including:
 
* ED BUCKNER, the new President of American Atheists.
* EDWIN KAGIN, National Legal Director
* HELEN KAGIN, Cofounder with Edwin of Camp Quest
* FRED EDWORDS, American Humanist Association
* MARGARET DOWNEY, Atheist activist, founder of the Anti-Discrimination Project
* FRANK ZINDLER, author, historian, Editor of American Atheist Magazine
                                                                 and…
MICHAEL WEISS, Comic and Comic Producer looks at the Season with his unique brand of comedy! 
* DAVE SILVERMAN, National Communications Director
 
* On Sunday, December 14, 2008 get together with the New Jersey Humanist Network for their annual celebration.  Visit http://www.njhn.org .
 
WHO & WHAT: Eddie Tabash, Ed Buckner, Edwin & Helen Kagin, Fred Edwords, Margaret Downey, Frank Zindler, Michael Weiss & more at the annual Winter Solstice Bash and celebration weekend hosted by American Atheists
 
WHEN: December 12-14, 2008
 
WHERE: The American Atheists Center, 225 Cristiani St. in Cranford, NJ, and the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Clark NJ.
 
MORE INFO and to register on line: http://www.atheists.org/wintersolstice.html
 
(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; labors for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

 

DAWKINS.
(Evolutionary Biologist, author)
ATLANTA.
APRIL 9-12, 2009
 
 
AMERICAN ATHEISTS NATIONAL CONVENTION
 
APRIL 9, 10, 11, 12, 2009
 
ATLANTA, GEORGIA
 
Emory Conference Center Hotel/Emory Inn
1615 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30329
 
Said to be the “Best Kept Secret” in Georgia the Emory is a hidden oasis as its’ Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture and serene wooded views combine diverse meeting space, beautiful gardens, walking trails, and much more to create a one of a kind experience.
*
 
The Emory is just 20 minutes from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  The downtown business district and vibrant Buckhead are less than 12 minutes from the hotel.  Complimentary on site parking is an added bonus.
*
 
The Emory offers a two-tiered guest room rate.  Guest rooms in the hotel are $109 plus tax for single/double.  Guest rooms in the inn (directly connected to the hotel) are $89 plus tax for single/double and include breakfast.  You must make your reservations directly with the hotel/inn on or before March 10, 2009 to enjoy our special convention rate. Be sure to tell them you are with the American Atheist convention. Emory Hotel/Inn reservations: 1-800-933-6679.   Visit the Emory Conference Center Hotel/Emory Inn at www.emoryconferencecenter.com
 
*
Confirmed Speakers at this time:
Ed Buckner: President, American Atheists, Inc.
Richard Dawkins: Evolutionist/recognized author
Mike Malloy: Nationally-syndicated talk radio personality
Jim Morrow: Writer
(D)evangelical: Stand Up Comedy Troupe
 
*
Thursday, April 9th, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
 - Great Hearth Room: Registration and informal reception with cash bar.
*
Friday, April 10th,
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM  Lullwater Ballroom
7:00 – 11:00 PM Silverbell Room, Open Banquet, Award Ceremony, Members Meeting
*
 
Saturday, April 11th
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Lullwater Ballroom
7:00 – 11:00 PM Silverbell Room, Open Banquet, Honor Lifetime/Gift and Legacy Members
*
 
Sunday, April 12th
Dining Rm; Hosted Breakfast. Arrive anytime between 8:00 and 11:00 AM and be greeted by your board members and state directors who will be eager to chat with you, enjoy a cup of coffee together or maybe a place at you breakfast table.
*
Sunday afternoon group outing.
Destination and time to be announced 
*        *        *
 
Of course, our convention will feature a host of speakers, entertainment, books, products, various vendors, endless conversations, greeting old friends and making new friends.  
 
 Stay tuned for updates

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

American Atheists now has a presence on Facebook. See: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51502800791

Y’all join up, y’hear.

Many thanks to Blair Scott and Dave Silverman for this.

Edwin.

———————————————————-

From time to time (well, frequently) we get letters from believers who are not content with the knowledge that they are saved and are going to heaven and that we are damned and are going to hell, but who rather feel it is their duty (perhaps under what is known as “The Great Commission”) to convert and to save us. Sometimes we answer them. Most times we (or at least I) do not.

Reproduced below is a wonderful such exchange (from the answer them category) between such a writer and Ed Buckner, our stand up President of American Atheists.

You might find Ed’s comments of use in dealing with such people.

Enjoy.

Edwin.

———————————————————

On Nov 20, 2008, at 11:10 PM, Chris Evans wrote:

> Dear Atheist,
> I am a CHRISTian and I would like to have a discussion about our
> opposing beliefs with you. I would like to know the Atheist’s basis of
> beliefs from an actual Atheist.
>
> Thank You

—————————————————

— On Thu, 11/20/08, Ed Buckner wrote:
From: Ed Buckner
Subject: Re: I would like an Intelligent discussion on our beliefs. Please Respond
To: [email protected]
Date: Thursday, November 20, 2008, 10:19 PM

——————————–

Mr. Evans,

Before I invest a great deal of time responding to you,
could you please advise as to how much of our quite
extensive archives on our website you have read, how many of
the large number of good books on Atheism you have read, and
why you ask what you ask.

The short answer is that we lack religious beliefs because
we see no good evidence or reasons to harbor such beliefs.

Regards,

Ed B.
Ed Buckner
President
American Atheists
www.atheists.org
[email protected]

——————————-

From: Ed Buckner [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 12:10 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: I would like an Intelligent discussion on our beliefs. Please Respond
 
Some answers interleaved, below.

Regards,

Ed B.
On Nov 21, 2008, at 7:31 AM, Chris Evans wrote:

I have read all the points on your website that concern me, most of them being the Bible contradictions (you take the Bible out of context) and other points you have made about the falsehood of Christianity. Honestly, I have not read any books on atheism, nor have a read any NONfiction books on Christianity besides the Bible. I have a few questions for you

My experience with Christians varies, but many take their biblical guidance out of context quite regularly. And all Christians who I’ve known accept only parts of the Bible, picking and choosing whether it’s OK to take virgin girls as trophies in war, accept human slavery (with, perhaps, some restrictions), support theocracy, oppress women, and much more.

(1) On your website you make a huge stereotype about Christians, and in your doing so it seems like you are trying to build up a lack of maturity and kindness towards us Christians. You make us sound like we are stuck up and a very large ego. I have honestly only met one or two Christians like this, yet I have met many Atheists who are like this and act above everyone else. Why is this?

My experience with Christians varies, as I said–but on average they are at least somewhat less thoughtful, witty, tolerant, mature, gracious, etc., than my Atheist friends and acquaintances. Plenty of jerks in both (all) camps, to be sure, and I have at least a few friends or loved ones who are religious but trustworthy, decent, and kind.

(2) Do you and any other atheists begin to become depressed after you {falsely} conclude that their is no God and no hope?

Not surprisingly, we don’t become depressed after we realize, accurately, that there is no reason to conclude that there are any supernatural forces at work, either to threaten us or assist us. It is liberating and uplifting, of course, to take responsibility for our own affairs and to recognize our own power–limited though it is, of course. There are good grounds to hope for much and no grounds for wasting time or effort on self-deception or false hopes.

(3) On your website why is your main focus on attacking Christians, not all of the Theistic and Pantheistic religions? It seems as though you are afraid the Christians may be right so you are throwing all you have at us. Why is this?

We don’t accept any religions or gods, though we do find that the god-based religions (a minority of all religions) tend to be the most dangerous, least rational religions. Christianity gets more attention on our web-site because we live in, and are often disadvantaged or threatened in, a society where an extraordinarily high proportion of the citizens accept some form or another of one of the Christian religions. Pointless, cowering fear is the province of religionists, not of Atheists.

Thank you

You’re welcome. Please read far more widely and please learn to think critically.

Regards,

Ed B.

Atheist News from Edwin Kagin

AMERICAN ATHEISTS MEDIA ALERT
http://www.atheists.org
 
BLAIR SCOTT ON ANSWERS IN ATHEISM INTERNET RADIO
              THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2008 7 PM CST
 
Blair Scott, National Affiliate Outreach Director & Alabama State Director for American Atheists will be the guest on Answers in Atheism Internet radio show.
 
On Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 7 p.m. CST Mr. Scott will be the guest on Answers in Atheism Internet radio show, located online at http://answersinatheisim.net. The Answers in Atheism Internet radio show discusses issues related to Atheists and Atheism and is hosted by Edwin Kagin.
 
The show starts at 7 p.m. CST and Mr. Scott will be the guest beginning at 7:30 p.m. Mr. Scott will be discussing American Atheists and the American Atheists Affiliate Program. In addition, in honor of Veteran’s Day, Mr. Scott will be discussing Operation Foxhole Atheists. Mr. Scott is a Foxhole Atheist veteran of the United States Navy.
 
WHO & WHAT: Blair Scott appearing on Answers in Atheism Internet radio show.
 
WHEN: Thursday, November 13 2008. The show starts at 7 p.m. Blair will come on at 7:30 p.m.
 
WHERE: Answers in Atheism Internet radio show. Listen online at:
http://www.answersinatheism.net
 
MORE ON THE NET:
Answers in Atheism: http://www.answersinatheism.net
American Atheists: http://atheists.org
National Affiliate Outreach Director: http://alabamaatheist.org/naod
Alabama State Director: http://atheists.org/al
Operation Foxhole Atheists: http://thenafa.org/ofa
Blair Scott: http://alabamaatheist.org
 
American Atheists is a nationwide movement which defends the civil rights of nonbelievers, works for the separation of church and state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.
American Atheists, Inc.
PO Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016
Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

===================================================================================================================================================================
 
AMERICAN ATHEISTS MEDIA ALERT
http://www.atheists.org
 
KAGIN AT WORKSHOP ON ATHEIST ACTIVISM,
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2008 ; TALK ON
CAMP QUEST, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2008
Skokie, Ill. at Ethical Humanist Society, Chicago
 
EDWIN KAGIN, National Legal Director for American Atheists will be the speaker for two days of events at the Ethical Humanist Society (Chicago), in Skokie, Ill.
 
On Saturday, November 15, 2008 Mr. Kagin will lead a workshop on “Atheist Activism: Motivating People and Events.”  A $5.00 donation is requested, and the program runs from 1:00 – 3:00 PM.  For more information including directions and contact information, visit http://www.ethicalhuman.org/ .
 
The following day, Sunday, November 16, 2008, Mr. Kagin will address the Ethical Society on the topic “Camp Quest:  — A Secular Camp Beyond Belief.”  Edwin Kagin is cofounder, along with his wife Helen Kagin, of the nation’s first residential summer camp for the children of freethinkers.  Mr. Kagin will discuss the effort to illuminate “a dark and scary world filled with magic and make-believe” and to help produce “ethical and responsible adults.”  This program begins at 10:30 AM.
 
The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago is  located at 7574 N. Lincoln Avenue (at Howard St.) in Skokie, Ill.
 
You may also visit http://www.edwinkagin.com for further details.
 
WHO & WHAT: Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists speaking at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago.
 
WHEN: This weekend — Saturday, November 15, 2008 (workshop on Atheist Activism, 1-3 PM, and Sunday, November 16, 2008 (10:30 AM)  “Camp Quest:  — A Secular Camp Beyond Belief.” 
 
WHERE:  The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago is  located at 7574 N. Lincoln Avenue (at Howard St.) in Skokie, Ill.
 
MORE INFO: http://www.ethicalhuman.org/ .
 
(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; labors for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)
 
============================================================================================================================================================

AMERICAN ATHEISTS, INC.
http://www.atheists.org
http://www.americanatheist.org

For more information, please contact:
Ed Buckner, President (770) 432-3049
Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director (859) 384-7000

ATHEISTS Criticize Court Ruling allowing Sectarian Prayer

American Atheists today criticized a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals allowing sectarian prayers before government meetings
in Cobb County, Ga.

The court ruled 2-1 that Cobb County’s practice of opening meetings with
prayers that include references to specific deities is constitutional.

Edwin Kagin, American Atheists Legal Director, said “This is a major
change toward establishing a theocracy. Government-sponsored prayer is
clearly unconstitutional, and this point had been established and
re-affirmed several times before this terribly misguided decision”

David Silverman, National Communications Director, explained “The whole
point of the separation of church and state is the requirement that
government treat all citizens equally. This ruling gives government the
power to do the exact opposite as of now, some people in Cobb County
have a right that others do not, simply because of their beliefs. Some
are recognized, acknowledged, and welcomed, and some are not. A
two-class system has been imposed, and it’s ludicrous that any court or
any citizen would think this is a good idea. “

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.
PO BOX 158
Cranford, NJ 07016
Tel.: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

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

AMERICAN ATHEISTS ACTION ALERT
http://www.atheits.org
 
LET PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA
KNOW THAT YOU SUPPORT SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE,  END TO FAITH-BASED INITIATIVE “BAIL OUT” FOR
RELIGIOUS GROUPS!
 
President -Elect Barack Obama and his transition team have opened a new web site, “Change.gov” to provide information and solicit input from the public on matters of national concern.  It is a great opportunity for all Americans — including Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Secularists — to speak out and let our agenda be known to the incoming administration.
 
AMERICAN ATHEISTS urges you to let President-elect Obama and his transition team know that the separation of church and state is an important issue to millions of Americans who “have no religious belief.”  We are also concerned with ending the federal faith-based initiative and similar state programs which transfer billions of dollars  to churches, mosques, temples and other sectarian groups to operate social services.  This amounts to the imposition of a religion tax on the American people.  It compels millions of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists and other nonbelievers to fund religion-based social programs that operate with minimal oversight, are of dubious efficacy, and amount to a “bail out” of houses of worship which have been losing congregants for many years.  Is this fair?
 
Mr. Obama has an opportunity to roll back the dangerous practice of funding religion under the welfare reform.  A number of religious leaders, however, are confident that the new Administration will retain the Faith-Based Initiative, or make only cosmetic reforms — such as having churches “promise” that they will segregate religious proselytizing and taxpayer-funded social services.
 
The “Change.gov” web site can be our way of politely telling President-elect Obama — “Their Religion — Our Money — No Way!” 
 
* Let your voice be heard!  Visit the “Change.gov” web site (http://www.change.gov) and post your remarks on the AMERICAN MOMENT section which solicits input from the public.  Copy your message to the CONTACT section.  Always ask for a response to the issues you are raising!
 
* Make your remarks brief, concise and polite.  Many Atheists, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and other nonbelievers supported Mr. Obama in his candidacy; we suggest that remarks not reflect a hostile or adversarial position.  Instead, point out that the faith-based initiative is a bad idea, imposes an unfair “Religion Tax,” and is bad social policy. 
 
* This issue does not concern religious belief, but rather the unconstitutional funding of religious belief and institutions by the government.
 
* Share your comments and observations on blogs and other forums include the NoGodBlog at http://www.nogodblog.com .
 
Let’s have our voices heard in Washington!
 
(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists; labors for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
From reader Jan:

Fresh meat on my doorstep late this afternoon.

They identified themselves as Mormons and I remarked that the white shirts, ties and backpacks gave them away, even without their bicycles. They then said they had parked their bikes up the street. :-)

Hilarity ensues!

I asked them about the planet Kolob and the magic underwear. Brought up that they think that Jesus and Satan were brothers. Said that Mark Twain referred to the Book of Mormom as “chloroform in print”. Mentioned that there was absolutely NO archeological evidence for 1.) the bible and 2.) any of the Mormon tale of Nephites/Laminites in the U.S. Asked them how they explained away the fact that Joseph Smith was a well documented con artist. Asked them about the face in the hat trick by Smith…and the pages that the wife of the scribe managed to make disappear. Told them that their baptism of the dead was just rude and tacky.

Told them I was an atheist. Quoted scripture at them. Since they were using KJV, I showed them the Isiah 45 bit about God saying he created evil and the Numbers 5 part about the priest performing an abortion in the temple. Told them they couldn’t reconcile the entire Easter story stuff. Gave them Edwin’s business card and told them that he’d be glad to come and speak to them…or that they could come to the Atheist MeetUp or the Humanist Forum to see what we heathens were all about.

Offered them a spare copy of Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and told them they needed to read it to see what the arguments were on the other side. No takers. But, one did take a CD I’d burned of all of Bart Ehrman’s “Historical Jesus” and “The Making of the New Testament Cannon”.

But, most of all, I scored a FREE Book ‘O Mormon!! I didn’t have a hard copy, just what was online.

If they come back, I’ll have to burn some other stuff on a CD for them. This one is at the top of my list right now . Any suggestions would be spiffy keen from you guys.

Jan

Smalkowski Case Settled in Oklahoma

Smalkowski Case Settled in Federal Court in Oklahoma

From: Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists

To: The Board of Directors and the Membership of American Atheists.

Date: October 30, 2008.

It is my distinct professional and personal pleasure to announce that the lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, at Oklahoma City, by American Atheists against the Hardesty, Oklahoma public school and certain named officials has been dismissed as settled. The order was filed yesterday, October 29, 2008. It is now part of history.

I am not at liberty to make public the terms of the settlement agreement, but both the monetary considerations, and the assurances provided by the defendants, were satisfactory to American Atheists, were approved by the past and present Presidents of American Atheists, Frank Zindler and Ed Buckner, and were of such a character that I recommended that American Atheists accept the settlement.

This case arose out of what we alleged was a denial of civil rights, and a conspiracy to violate civil rights, by state actors in Oklahoma against members of the Smalkowski family and other members of American Atheists. The Smalkowski family has made its own separate settlement with the defendants. Our lawsuit was based on the denial of civil rights to Atheists in the Oklahoma school, using the treatment of the Smalkowskis as evidence for this claim, and seeking redress for Atheists.

This case was filed just over two years ago. The history of what happened is contained in the following writings, that have previously appeared nationally, regarding the events that formed the cause of action for the Federal lawsuit. The factual background is a matter of public record.

A special “thank you” goes to attorney Richard Rice of Oklahoma City who served as local counsel on this case. Rick is a Christian. He made that clear to me from the outset. And he believes in the rights secured by our Constitution. And he fought for them. Without his most competent and professional assistance, the result announced today could not have been achieved. On this issue, we are in the same line.

We thank the Smalkowski family for their praise of our efforts on their behalf and we wish them well in their future undertakings.

Edwin Kagin
National Legal Director
American Atheists, Inc.
PO Box 666
Union, KY 41091
Phone: (859) 384-7000
Fax: (859) 384-7324
E-mail: [email protected]

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

SMALKOWSKI FOUND NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS
Web Posted: June 26, 2006
American Atheists Magazine

Chester (Chuck) Smalkowski, a member of American Atheists living in
Hardesty, Oklahoma, has been found Not Guilty on all counts by a
twelve person jury in Guymon, Texas County, Oklahoma.

Chuck, together with his family, is featured on the cover of the
current issue of American Atheist Magazine. At the 2006 Annual
Convention, the Smalkowski Family was presented the American Atheists
Award for Valor, now prominently displayed on the wall of their home.

The Smalkowski case attracted national attention after Nicole
Smalkowski was kicked off of the girls’ basketball team after refusing
to stand in a circle with her teammates on the gymnasium floor of the
Hardesty public High School and recite the “Lord’s Prayer.” After
school officials learned that she and her family were Atheists, lies
were created about her as grounds to take her off of the team.

When her father Chuck discovered conclusively that public school and
law enforcement officials had lied to him about his 15 year old
daughter, he and Nicole and her mother Nadia went to the home of
principal Lloyd Buckley to attempt to discuss the matter with him.
Outside of his front fence, the principal struck Chuck, who blocked
the blow. Both men fell to the ground and Buckley sustained minor
injuries, the provable origins of which were strikingly contrary to
his under oath trial testimony. Buckley then took out misdemeanor
criminal assault charges against Chuck. After Smalkowski rejected the
offer to drop the charges if he and his Atheist family left the state,
the charges were raised to a felony. Chuck called American Atheists
for help.

On June 22, 2006, after only a little over two and a half hours of
deliberation, a span of time that included dinner, the jury found
Chuck “Not Guilty” of the felony charge of assault and of two lesser
included misdemeanor assault charges.

Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists and his
wife Helen drove from Kentucky to Guymon, Oklahoma for the five day
trial. Edwin had become registered as an attorney in Oklahoma for the
purpose of assisting Tim Gungoll, Chuck’s attorney from Enid,
Oklahoma. Mr. Kagin conducted the voir dire of the prospective jury,
gave the opening and closing statements in the case, cross examined
the Superintendent of the Hardesty public schools, David Davidson, and
conducted the direct examination of the defendant Chuck Smalkowski.
Tim cross examined the other prosecution witnesses and conducted the
direct examination of Nicole and Nadia Smalkowski.

The Atheist and Christian attorneys worked together effectively for
the cause of justice and to vindicate an Atheist falsely accused.

The true significance of this trial is that this is the first case we
know of in American jurisprudence where Atheism has been directly used
in as a defense in a criminal trial.

Edwin introduced himself to the jury as National Legal Director for
American Atheists and asked the prospective jury in the Oklahoma
panhandle if they could accept the testimony of an Atheist over that
of a professed Christian. When the jury looked at him blankly, the
judge asked the prospects if they understood the question. One woman
spoke for many in the group by asking “What is an Atheist?”
Edwin explained that an Atheist was a person who did not believe in a
god or gods or in a supernatural world, and that the defendant and his
entire family were such persons. Many of the prospects said they
could not believe such a person over a Christian and were struck for
cause. To their credit, many members of the jury panel, including two
ministers’ wives, told the judge they could not be fair to an Atheist
in such a situation and were excused.

Edwin also told the prospective jurors that his co-counsel Tim Gungoll
believed Jesus Christ to be his personal savior and that Tim was a
practicing Roman Catholic who asked if the jury might feel him a
hypocrite to his faith for defending Chuck. Ultimately a jury of
twelve was seated who had sworn that they could believe the testimony
of an Atheist over that of a Christian.

In closing argument, Edwin told the jury that it really should not be
necessary for an Atheist to tell them it is wrong to lie under oath,
as he reminded them the Christian school officials and the police had
done in their sworn trial testimony. “Thou shall not bare false
witness against thy neighbor. Ninth Commandment. Eight if you are
Roman Catholic,” Kagin said.

The jury believed the Atheists. Unanimously.

The night of the verdict, tornados of unusual violence descended on
the panhandle of Oklahoma. The home of the Principal who had brought
the false charges against Chuck Smalkowski was severely damaged.

This fact has no relationship whatsoever to the verdict.

A civil lawsuit in Federal Court, with the Smalkowski Family and
American Atheists as Plaintiffs, is contemplated.

________________________________________
JUST ANOTHER SALEM
by Chester Smalkowski
Web Posted: July 8, 2006
American Atheists Magazine
From the AANEWS Editor: Below, we are reproducing, “as is” and un-edited, the account circulating on the internet and the democraticunderground.com web site penned by Chester Smalkowski and aptly titled “Just Another Salem.”
It is his personal story about the ordeal he and has family have been swept up in after their daughter, Nadia, refused to join a prayer circle during a basketball game at their local high school. Nadia, instead, recited the “godless” Pledge of Allegiance.
From there, events went out of control. Chester Smalkowski and family members attempted to hold a conversation with the high school principal. That turned into a physical altercation, Mr. Smalkowski was arrested under a battery of charges, and the authorities offered to dismiss the case if the Atheist family fled the state.
http://www.atheists.org/catalogue/special.htmlAmerican Atheists joined in the subsequent criminal case, and Chester Smalkowski — battling incredible “Bible Belt” odds in the courtroom — was found innocent of the charges. News of that can be found on the American Atheists web site.
Edwin Kagin ([email protected]), National Legal Director for American Atheists, is preparing a federal action which will touch on a number of issues in the Smalkowski case including violations of this Atheist family’s civil rights.
Chester Smalkowski vented his thoughts about this experience on a blog. AANEWS is reproducing this story for the benefit of our readers, unedited and in its original format. This conveys the honest, emotional, “from the heart” sentiments of Mr. Smalkowski, and constitutes one man’s recollection of an agonizing experience due to religious intolerance and fanaticism.
American Atheists welcomes support so that we may continue our efforts on behalf of Chester Smalkowski and his family.
There are lessons to be learned. Perhaps the most important, though, is that “it can happen here,” in America, in the year 2006.
– Conrad Goeringer,
AANEWS – American Atheists

JUST ANOTHER SALEM
The bailiff took the piece of paper from the foreman of the jury and handed it to the Judge. He opened the paper and while staring at it he nodded. The courtroom was silent and the jury stared straight ahead.
I have been in many situations where my life or limb were on the line but I was still in the game and had a hand to play. But not here, here I just sat waiting for the verdict.
Though I worried about being sent away for five years on bogus charges, my dread was the Christian mob. They knew I must be found guilty in order to slow or stop the civil case being filed in Federal court. Since the start of my daughter’s stand against the public schools disregard for the law of the land, it was imperative to run us out of the county to make any civil action non valid. With me in jail for five years running my family out would be a whole lot easier, or so they might have thought.
The courtroom was packed for it is the Bible belt. There was no love in this courtroom.
The loving Christians brought their children to hear the verdict. They brought the town. They brought ministers. I even saw another Judge in the back of the room. The Judge who in an earlier hearing while slapping an inch thick stack of papers on his bench saying with a list of witnesses this big you had better be a good boy. It was lies then, it was lies now and the DA knew it! (She was later forced to hand over a written statement she denied for over a year existed!) People prayed openly for a conviction. Many holding their bibles. During the trial the Prosecutions side of the courtroom was packed. Only my son and Edwin Kagin’s wife, Helen sat behind me, but now there was not enough room in the whole courtroom.
Yet now the so-called victim, the 325 lbs victim, the ex Marine, hurrahs, was nowhere to be found. Neither was the woman assistant district attorney anywhere to be found. Whose vindictive, bogus case this was from the start.
What sort of place is this?
Well this is not the place for a little debate in a coffee shop with the sweet salt air rolling up from San Francisco bay. This is a place where the children write on their schoolbooks the south will rise again. This is a place where they say that black people caused slavery! Where they burn rock CD’s. Mormons are the tools of Satan. That my daughter is gay cause only homosexuals vote for Kerry and Christians vote for Bush. Atheists worship Satan! Where religious fanaticism is fused with political rhetoric and political leaders pander to this madness. This place has a sickness, a malignant disease and it is spreading. Edwin saw it first hand.
There has not been many a trial with a Not Guilty verdict in this county for years. The head DA is good friends with the self-righteous in the courtroom and greets them all by name. You know the type.
Many old women in the courtroom are taking notes. Others have been taking notes at every hearing for the past year and a half! They strain to listen not wanting to miss one juicy word. With the pens and pads they write continuously. The pads shaking with every push of the pen. Even writing down what my children spoke amongst themselves.
Blue gray haired old Christian spinsters bitter for wasting all those fruitful years now just waiting for those pearly gates. These are truly the wicked. You have seen them before. With their bogus self-righteousness they strut and sneer. How far we have not come.
Others had walked out into the hall and warned a police witness saying that justice must be served, that justice better be served. The judge called a hearing on the threat.
He warned the crowd that if it happens one more time he would have no choice but to throw out the case. He was between a rock and a hard place. He knows my lawyers are watching and the loving Christians are out for my blood, and they are watching too. The law, elections and politics were all in play. The Judge left the court for his chambers and stayed away for a quite awhile.
The Christians, the loving Christians! Praying to a God whose wings are dripping in the blood of innocent men, woman and children down through the ages. Truly hypocrisy is one of their commandments and the blood of the innocence one of their sacraments!
Christian against Christian, Christian against Moslem, Christian against Mormon. Basically Christian against anyone or anything that challenges their pathetic little fairy tale.
Go to any Indian reservation and see the lies and broken promises by a country with “Under God” in their pledge.
I assume I need not have to explain about the loving hymns sung in church on Sunday and beatings of black slaves on Monday. But on Monday night the good old Master has a little tippy toe over to slave huts for a little brown sugar. While the queen of the manor is in the master bedroom past out on an opium tonic. Praise the Lord!
Well that was then but now the court was about to hear the verdict. There was a feeding frenzy about to begin with the dirty little atheist and his family put in their place with him in jail and the family run out of town. Like the teacher told my daughter “This is a Christian country and if you don’t like it get out!”
I could hear my heart beat in my ears and I dreaded the cheers from the righteous mob that were about to begin. The pain of having my family being in the front row to witness this swirling cesspool of hatred come to its inevitable end with my head on a pike, sucked the air right out of my lungs.
It was truly just another Salem. Different time and place. Same characters with new names. Oh, no gallows or big oak tree this time. But if they could they surely would. How far we have not come. I know, I already said that but do you really understand what a tragedy it means? The whole universe is ours if we want it but instead we must gravel in the dirt having to debate the obvious.
I have been standing against injustice most of my life. It is my nature. I am a child of the 60′s and proud of it. But what of my poor family? They stood so proud and strong. They are tougher than I will ever be. I had told them do not cry. Do not give these bastards any satisfaction. I told my wife if I see you cry I will surely loose it. I said it is in the Federal courts we will set things right and send that wall higher than it has ever been. On the wall behind us was a painting of the signing of the Declaration.
The judge handed the verdict to the clerk. The only sound was the paper. The paper in the clerk’s hands with the hand written words that spelled my doom, my family’s fate and the inevitable cheers from the Christian mob.
With my guts in my throat and no air to breathe. The court clerk read the decision of the jury.
We the jury find the defendant:
On the charge of Aggravated Assault and Battery:
Not Guilty!
On the charge of Assault and Battery:
Not Guilty!
On the charge of Assault:
Not Guilty!
On the charge of Battery:
Not Guilty!
Not a word, not a sound. The lynching had been cancelled. I took my first free breath in almost two years. I looked at the jury and mouth the words thank you. I gazed at the floor as floodgates opened, I dared not move my head that others might see. Charley don’t cry, but free air has its effects.
With all their praying, lies, crooked cops, warning that justice better be done, packing the courthouse with their followers, Even a teacher on the jury who had taught at the Hardesty School. (Our motion to take her off the jury denied.) Not guilty was still the outcome. The evidence was obvious. This was a bad case. And 12 men and women had the guts.
From the start of this legal fight my lawyers said Atheism must be kept out. That it was a no go in the Bible belt. I was just adamant that Atheism be brought in. For it is the reason. It was the motive for all the lies and hate. I felt it was about time that this dirty little secret of hate, persecution, Christian madness and hypocrisy is brought out into the light of day. When I told my lawyers this they all gave me the same bewildered stare.
So one by one, I dropped one lawyer then two. Then I had a hard time in finding another one. My third lawyer was still trying to convince me to keep my atheism out even up till the day of the trial. I still said no. Somewhere along the line I talk to the ACLU out of San Francisco. Who let me know my first civil lawyer was not telling me the whole story. I was advised by them and many others to complain to the Bar about him.
You see he never told me that the prayer in itself is illegal. That the schools in this area were not following the state and federal funding guidelines. When I asked him after finding out from the ACLU. He said yes it is against the law.
I told him I want to have it stopped. He told me he would not for he was a Christian and he believed there should be school prayer. His statement floored me for it bordered on madness. I said what you believe and what you do for a client is two different things and that you took an oath. He still refused.
It did not matter to him that I had already given him $10,000 dollars. He knows we are not rich. So I wrote a letter to him to complain about his refusing to take my daughters civil case where it should have gone from the start. And I asked for my money back. He sent me a bill for another $5000 saying it was the charge for reading my letter and wasting his time.
In my search for a civil attorney it became clear that no one would touch this case. In all of Oklahoma I could not find an attorney. My criminal attorney said he would look at it but only after I paid him his $15000 for the criminal case. He sent me a letter that the funds for the criminal were coming too slow and suggested that I seek other counsel for the civil matter. But even after he got his $15000 he would only take it if I paid him more. (Now that I have won the criminal case he wants on the civil. Suffice to say he is off the civil!)
Eventually I contacted the American Atheist, which was referred to me by Edward Tabash, who was referred to me by a Mr. Robert Tierman. I told them my problem in finding an attorney willing to take church and state case in which the people are blatantly breaking the law. Yet no one will take it. American Atheist, being out of another state, could not refer me to anyone. But they said they would try to help. The ACLU out of Oklahoma City refused. They sent me some standard letter. It really hurt that I did not even rate a return call or a reason. I felt betrayed, lost and confused.
Was this the United States? Where freedom reigns?
The whole family was under constant stress. Police trying to get search warrants to the property by having ex-employees file false statements. Other cops trying to hire ex-cons to beat me up. The whole town knows of it! The Sheriff trying to have my bond pulled by the bail bondsman when there was no legal way to do it. My kids have been out of school since November. Principal’s son saying should he get a gun when he sees my daughter and my son. DA has yet to reply to our concerns. The Department of Human Services comes to my place saying they received a complaint that I starve my kids. It was even obvious to them the charge was bogus.
We have become very good at using back roads. The police follow us around. Traffic tickets that when challenged were dropped in court. Not to mention the stares and whispers, the betrayal from employees, one of my healthy dogs dying. Brush fires starting up upwind.
An FBI agent even said, “You aren’t kidding”. When it was obvious someone followed us and was watching our meeting out in the middle of nowhere. I was told about a few things. All I can say is that some of the crooks out here now charged with crimes wore badges and guns! But he could not help my family and me. Not without witnesses willing to come forward. One scared witness left the state. The last words she spoke to me were, Chuck I don’t want to end up dead in a ditch!
Just what you would expect life to be like out here in the Bible belt!
The roller coaster of emotions we went through every minute, every day. It was truly a hell. There were days we spoke little. Other days we spoke late into the night. You get to a point you become numb, but it doesn’t last. For it is all aboard and you are on the roller coaster again.
My poor family. They were standing tall. But they would not even be in this place if it were not for me and my bright idea about centralizing our business. We all missed the desert. The free open Mojave Desert. My family did not ask for this. They deserved better. I saw them all suffering.
Many a night I would sit in the barn alone with a pint of scotch and look at the high beams and the rope on the wall.
Then out of the blue my wife received a call from Ellen Johnson who said they had a lawyer that can help us, an Edwin Kagin who is their legal director. Well I called him up, and our civil case is up and running.
Edwin Kagin also by my request came to my criminal case for the two cases are obviously interrelated. There were also other reasons.
Simply stated without Edwin Kagin, Ellen Johnson and American Atheist I would be in jail now, or worse. Without them, we would have no federal case on separation of church and state. The only group, the only lawyer that would stand with my family and me to protect the wall and not cringe at me wanting to put atheism as part of my defense.
In Edwin’s opening statement American Atheist magazine was shown. The crowd almost rioted. He explained that Atheism was not a dirty word and that it was a conclusion. That my family and I are not devil worshippers. We just have no Gods. It was the basis of the case. It was the danger. It was the truth. Yet the only lawyer to go there freely was Edwin Kagin.
In a world where superstition is the norm and those who seek another path are ridiculed or worse. Being an atheist takes guts. Freedom is never freely given. The good fight is always there.
Oh you can hide yourself in the latest sitcom or have one or two more scotch and waters but the good fight is still there. You can run to your malls and buy yourself crazy with credit card frenzy. But the good fight is still there. You can look away and deny allegiance. But the good fight is still there. These are the times that try men’s courage. You can debate till you’re blue in the face. It will not change a damn thing.
Our forefathers are on our side in this fight. Trust me. From Adams to Madison to Jefferson and Paine they all knew the dangers of a Theocracy. They wrote the Constitution to assure it. And within the federal courts we can protect this nation from a Theocracy.
The wall between the church and state must stand. But the wall is being battered and cracks now appear. The Christians are at the gate attempting to breach the wall and send us back down the road to an age of darkness, bloodshed and fear. My family and myself are willing to stand and fight the good fight. If we lose some skin, so be it. We have no more else to give. We are financially done. Thanks to American Atheist, Ellen Johnson and Edwin Kagin for the first time we do not fight alone.
Please stand together with us and fight the good fight. The fight that our forefathers began. Lets make the wall so high between Church and State that they who wish to tear it down will know better and be content with staying in their churches.
For freedom has never been free! There can be no freedom for all if the wall does not stand.
The wall must stand.
Chuck, Nadia, Nicole, Czeslaw and Bridgette Smalkowski

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