Category Archives: News

Colleen Hanabusa – What Will You Do for Atheist Voters?

colleen hanabusa committees

To learn about the question campaign, watch this video, and join the “What will you do for the atheist voters?” campaign page.

Colleen Hanabusa, who represents the 1st congressional district of Hawaii, began her political career in 1998 as the State Senator for the 21st District of Hawaii following several decades as a labor lawyer.  Prior to obtaining her Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law in 1977, Hanabusa earned a Master of Arts degree in Sociology in 1975 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Sociology in 1973 from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  While in the Hawaii State Senate, Hanabusa served as Senate Majority Leader and was elected President of the Senate in 2006, the first Asian-American woman to do so in the U.S.  After several unsuccessful bids for Congress, Hanabusa defeated incumbent Charles Djou in 2010 to win her current congressional seat, where she serves on the Committees on Armed Services and Natural Resources.  Hanabusa, who grew up in Wai’ainae, is a 4th generation American of Japanese Ancestry and the third Buddhist elected to congress.

As a freshman member of congress, Hanabusa has consistently voted the Democratic party line on matters of budget, health care and defense.  While in the Hawaii legislature, she co-chaired the investigative committee on the Felix Consent Decree for Special Needs Children.  She introduced a bill to offer tax credits to a developer with whom she had a close association, not unusual in Hawaii, but when vetoed, she sued to overturn. As President of the Senate, she routinely introduced a speaker to give the “invocation” before sessions, a clear violation of the separation of church and state.  Hanabusa, currently running for re-election against her former adversary Djou, has the backing of veteran Hawaii powerhouses, Senators Akaka and Inouye, in a state that has been controlled by a powerful Democratic Party.

In 2008, Hanabusa married state Sheriff John F. Souza III.  Souza has been involved in a number of controversial business and real estate transactions where there is at least the appearance of benefiting from his association with Hanabusa, including the Ka Olina tax credit bill.

When challenged with the question “What will you do for atheist voters?” Congresswoman Hanasuba replied with the following letter:

“Thank you for your correspondence expressing your support for the separation of church and state. I appreciate your input on this important issue.

“I share your conviction that one of the most important principals in American government is the separation of church and state. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, explicitly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As a member of Congress, I have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution.

“Hawaii is a state made up of minorities and thus, I believe that representing diverse views is integral to effective law-making. And as your elected representative, I make a conscious effort to listen to and carefully consider ideas from constituents  and colleagues from diverse backgrounds with varying beliefs before making policy decisions and always consider the needs of the people of Hawaii first and foremost. My primary focus is to advocate for legislation that is in the best interest of the people of Hawaii.

“Again, thank you for expressing your views on these crucial issues.  I hope you will continue to contact me on federal matters of concern to you.  If you would like regular updates, please sign up for my e-newsletter at http://hanabusa.house.gov

Sincerely,

Colleen Hanabusa

The Ascent of Man

The Ascent of Man
atheist The Ascent of Man

Had Charles Darwin released The Origin of Species or The Descent of Man in the late 16th century, he may have found himself a roommate of Galileo Galilei under lifelong house arrest, or worse, burned at the stake like Galileo’s contemporary Giordano Bruno. Fortunately for Darwin, the Church had lost its authority to try, convict, confine, torture and murder for the crime of heresy by the time the first of Darwin’s two books was published in 1859. Not since the time of Galileo have the truths of our world discovered through science so directly challenged religious dogma and political authority. Galileo’s truth was that Copernicus was correct: the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the Solar System. Further, he found that the Earth was not unique. The other bright lights in the sky were planets, not wandering stars, and some had moons just like the Earth. There were other worlds besides Earth, and Galileo was the first to suggest that these other worlds could be inhabited. These facts ran head first into the theocracy that sustained its authority through the inerrant veracity of biblical scripture. A challenge to the dogmatic view of Earth and Man at the center God’s creation undermined the supposedly divinely inspired policy. If the Church had it all wrong, what else were they wrong about? And how could they be wrong if the dogma was divinely inspired?

Other great truths about our world have emerged since Galileo: Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity represented a major advancement by extending classical Newtonian mechanics and gravitation and demonstrating the equivalence between mass and energy. Quantum physics, associated with great scientists like Heisenberg, Pauli, Schrödinger, and Feynman, was able to unify two of major fundamental forces: electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force. As great as the achievements in quantum physics and relativistic physics were, however, it did not directly challenge religious dogma or the basis for political authority. Both religion and the political system could get along fine with or without the new physics at some fundamental level.

Darwin’s work on biological evolution through Natural Selection was a different matter. It did provide both a challenge—more like a deathblow—to dogma and to the basis for political authority. If humans descended from a proto-human ancestor that descended from a non-human ape that ultimately has a common ancestor with one-celled organisms, then it follows that God did not create Man. There was no Adam and Eve. Hence, there was no Original Sin. Darwin was far worse for the Church than Galileo. The Judeo-Christian creation story revealed itself as nothing more than a myth. Noah did not sequester two animals of each kind from a global flood, rather the current variety of animals evolved. Most importantly, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution pulled out from underneath Christianity its entire foundation: Jesus died for the sins of Man, the greatest of which was Original Sin. Without Original Sin, the very fabric of Christianity unwinds.

atheism The Ascent of Man

Not surprisingly, the greatest opposition to the fact of Evolution is from Judeo-Christian religious institutions. As recently as 2008, over 40% of the U.S. adult population did not accept the evolution of humans from an earlier species with an additional 20% being unsure (Miller et al, 2006). Acceptance of evolution requires an abandonment of the underpinning of faith, or a transition to a weak, accommodationist view that struggles to square away the inescapable truth of science with metaphorical biblical contortions. In reality, it is a struggle that has effectively been lost at an intellectual level, with God now retreating to the vanishingly small gaps quickly being filled by science. Any God that might exist is a puny, powerless being more insignificant than Man on his tiny pale blue dot in a massively expansive and mostly empty Universe—hardly a god at all. As firm as Darwin’s evidence was at the time he postulated evolution through natural selection, The Theory of Evolution is now on as solid of ground as any scientific fact that we take for granted. Evolution can be denied no more easily than gravitation.

At the political level, the acceptance of evolution, particularly in the U.S. remains a battle. This is undoubtedly a result of the false notion that morals are derived from God, as exemplified by a statement from current GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich (GOP Presidential Debate October 18, 2011): “How can you have judgment if you don’t have faith, and how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” The same undertone of God-given rights is found in The Declaration Independence, which begins by stating that it is necessary to dissolve political bands to assume the powers “to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them”, and further declares it “self evident” that “all men are created equal [and] that they are endowed by their Creator worth certain unalienable Rights”. Setting aside the fact that many of the Founding Fathers were deists, the implications that there exists absolute, divinely-inspired morals and rights is part of the history of our country. The Declaration of Independence, while simultaneously recognizing the authority of mankind to govern itself, provides a divine justification for the creation of the United States of America. Evolution not only undermines religious faith, it directly threatens a key tenet of political authority. Rejection of faith leads to rejection of divinely inspired morals which, in the mind of the True Believer, will surely lead to anarchy and utter disdain for the value of life. Evolution means Man was not created. Man evolved. And the rights of Man were not endowed by a Creator, but by the intellectual and philosophical reasoning of Man himself. It is up to us to govern ourselves with morals that we develop. Morals belong to Man, not to a God.

non believer The Ascent of Man

On February 12 we honor the genius of Charles Darwin who epitomizes the power of science and reasoned thought. Through painstakingly precise observation obtained primarily during his journey on H.M.S. Beagle, he demonstrated how a simple mechanism of nature—inexact reproduction and competition for survival—could explain the complex variety of organisms in nature. But the celebration of Darwin Day is in many ways more than just recognition of Darwin’s monumental scientific achievement. Darwin effectively drove a stake through the heart of religious dogma and the false political authority propped up by discredited mythology. He was well aware of the power of his idea and its religious implications, an idea Daniel Dennett would later describe as a “universal acid” that eats away at “just about every traditional concept and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view”. The National Atheist Party joins with those individuals and organizations that embrace knowledge over dogma, reason over faith, and the inescapable end game derived from The Theory of Evolution: It is up to us and us alone to govern ourselves. Science will provide the facts and tools we need to do this. Reason will show us the way. -Scot Rafkin-

Atheists Identified as America’s most Distrusted Minority

What: U of M study reveals Americas distrust of atheism

Atheists Identified as America’s most Distrusted Minority

Who: Penny Edgell, associate professor of sociology

Contacts: Nina Shepherd, sociology media relations, (612) 599-1148

Mark Cassutt University News Service, (612) 624-8038

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/28/2006) —American’s increasing acceptance of religious diversity doesn’t extend to those who don’t believe in a god, according to a national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology.

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.”

The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one’s exposure to diversity, education and political orientation—with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts.

The study is co-authored by assistant professor Joseph Gerteis and associate professor Doug Hartmann. It’s the first in a series of national studies conducted the American Mosaic Project, a three-year project funded by the Minneapolis-based David Edelstein Family Foundation that looks at race, religion and cultural diversity in the contemporary United States. The study will appear in the April issue of the American Sociological Review

ref: UMN.edu – rate my professor todd kroll; sora lee umn

Tammy DuckWorth – How will you represent atheist voters?

Tammy DuckWorth – How will you represent atheist voters?

To learn about the question campaign, watch this video, and join the “What will you do for the atheist voters?” campaign page.

On the 7th of February 2012, I was lucky enough to attend a community town hall with Tammy Duckworth who is currently running for the 8th district of Illinois.  Tammy has not held public office before, so she does not have a voting record to ascertain her positions.   However, Duckworth did serve as  Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and as the director of the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs. She is an Iraq War veteran and former U.S. Army helicopter pilot; her severe combat wounds cost her both of her legs and damage to her right arm.

Upon asking her how she would represent her atheist consituents, she repsonded with some personal reflections about her background and even reflected on her own theist position in a manner that did not pander to any group.  A politician even acknowledging the distinction between a deist or various types of theists is rare – let alone claim that as a position.

To illustrate the specific concerns that a National Atheist Party member would have concerning political policy, I asked about the current controversy concerningt he Obama administration’s HHS ruling to do away with exemptions of religious-based businesses which refuse to offer the same standard of care that all other businesses must provide through their healthcare.  They hide behind an argument of religious liberty while refusing to give individual workers  and women the same options and benefits enjoyed by all others in the nation.  As a result, they strip the right of the individual to make their own decision of conscience.

The administration was already voicing that they would kowtow to the pressure of Catholic bishops despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans and even Catholics use and approve of contraception and family planning.  They have since compromised and given into the pressure of those Catholic bishops.

Re-Elect Susi Bocks for Administrative Vice President

Re-Elect Susi Bocks for Administrative Vice President

2012 Candidate for VP of Administration
National Atheist Party member since July 2011

Contact Information:

             [email protected]

Susi Bocks for Administrative Vice President usanap

Priorities

The VP of Administration position has come a long way since its inception in March 2011. Much progress has been made since then in creating the structure of the NAP, as well as the implementation of the policies and procedures that make this an effective Party. We all started with doing a multitude of jobs, encompassing many functions and with hard work, determination and effort it has grown to having a formalized Executive Board and working Outreach committees and Administrative committees. Many functions previously handled by just a few people has led to the establishment of a legitimate organization with many people in leadership positions continuing to forge ahead to where it needs to be in order to realize the goal of becoming an official political party.

My main priority right now is to continue staffing and educating the leadership that forms that structure with proper understanding of the policies and procedures. In addition, ensuring that the Advisory Council (even though it is not fully formed) is functioning as intended, so that we may utilize their experience and their education fully in addressing issues that have a direct effect on us.

During my four year term, my focus will be as follows:

  • Continue to streamline the policies and procedures for the various departments/committees.
  • Continue to delegate responsibilities so that NAP leadership assigned may effectively guide their departments/committees. Manage those departments/committees of the Administrative Branch that it is responsible for, ensuring they are all functioning as expected.

In these next four years, I see this position effectively becoming a true leadership position, where oversight and vision will provide guidance over the created structure and help to continue to focus the Administrative branch on their tasks and responsibilities.

I also look forward in these next four years to continue to work with the people I’ve come to know. We have forged a spirit of team effort and collaboration that is supportive and uplifting. This cooperation has helped us see much success as evidenced by the growth of the NAP. I would like to remain in this position and continue to work with all those that share the same vision of a country that can finally offer hope of a different political future to the atheist community.

Why I’d like to continue for 4 More Years

I’ve been politically opinionated for as long as I can remember, always coming down on the side of that which would make the most sense. It is my passion to attack issues from a place of logic and reason; usually addressing those areas when my sense of justice spurs me to action. The members of the National Atheist Party represent a segment of the population that I’m a part of and one that I have always felt was dismissed; these factors all led me to join up with the NAP and to serve as best as I could. I would like to remain in current position as VP of Administration to continue to bring the level of effective leadership that will bring with it not only good representation, but a level of commitment to detail and organization that this position requires.

Being involved with the National Atheist Party this past year has offered me a glimpse into a future of the United States that could be much different from its recent past. As a member of the National Atheist Party and as a leader of it, I’m committed to the vision of the forefathers for a secular government. The continued steady growth and the progress that the party is experiencing in the formation stages prove that there is a desire for a party such as this in this country. The National Atheist Party, through using logic and reasoning as the foundation and guiding force on which all decisions are made, gives this nation and its citizens hope that our future can be a better one.

My fellow colleagues and I on the Executive Board want to continue to work together effectively as we have since my coming on board with the NAP. We have worked tirelessly together and watched the progression and the success of it due to those collaborative efforts. My predecessor, and one of the founders of this party, would not have selected me for this position if he did not feel that I was qualified to do the job. I’m committed, focused and, to date, have met every task with organizational skill and efficiency. Continuing to be a part of the success of the National Atheist Party would be an honor for me, as would having a hand in contributing to the changing of the current political status quo.

In addition, I’ve earned it and I think I deserve it.

Volunteering/Activism Experience

National Atheist Party

December 2011 – Present, Acting VP of Administration, pro tempore
October 2011 – December 2011, Deputy VP of Administration
September 2011 – December 2011, Advisory Council Secretary
July 2011 – October 2011, KS State Chapter Leader

Skepticon – 2012 Volunteer Director, 2011 Merchandise Volunteer, 2010 Attendee
Big Brothers/Big Sisters McPherson County, KS Board, August 2006 – August 2007
McPherson Main Street Promotions Board, September 2005 – August 2007
Canton-Galva PTO President, September 2002 – May 2008
All Schools Day Parade Button Chair, August 2005 – May 2007
Pink Pajama Party (Local Breast Cancer Advocacy), August 2005 – August 2007
Bergenfield, NJ Middle School PTO President, September 1996 – May 2001

Work Experience

Robertson Chiropractic Center, Office Manager June 2009 – February 2011
Sunflower Bank, Teller/CSR October 2006 – April 2009
Mid-America Mgmt, Property Mgr. Galva Apts. October 2006 – October 2009
Oh! Baby, Owner & Manager February 2005 – June 2006

and many other industries such as manufacturing, insurance, retail. Without exception, every company I have ever been employed by as an adult, everyone has rewarded my hard work, diligence and contributions to the company with either pay increases and/or promotions. When I commit to any endeavor, be it personal, volunteer or work, I give more than 100% to ensure the success of the position and the organization for which I’m involved with.

Education

Mt. Pleasant High School, Wilmington, DE Graduated 1980

Biography

I was born in W. Berlin, Germany (before the wall came down) and have spent the last close to 50 years not getting any degrees from college, but living out the typical dysfunctional childhood experience. After I left home, I gained 30+ years experience in the work force doing a variety of jobs, in a variety of industries. This is where I got my well-rounded education to be an asset in doing anything. Resume supplied upon request. I’ve always voiced my opinion, usually when asked for it and frequently when not. Activism and volunteering are deeply embedded character traits of mine, not just something I choose to be involved in.

My husband and I have raised two wonderful boys in a household devoid of religion. Their mindset is very different from the people in our small rural community in Kansas. Our hope is that their future will be filled with more reason and logic than the religion filled atmosphere they grew up with outside of our home.

I become unemployed February 2011 and have used that time to rediscover my passion for writing and concentrate on those things that have most meaning for me. Deep inside me my desire has always been to have my voice heard and share that with others, through writing I’ve been able to bring make that happen. I’ve had some modest success with my writing since becoming unemployed having some pieces published by SupportAtheism.com and AtheismResource.com, in addition to pieces published on my personal blog, www.sbsoapbox.blogspot.com.

Living in the Bible Belt helped to push me in the direction of political activism and is primarily what started me on my journey with the National Atheist Party. It would have been foolish of me not to become involved. My desire to be an activist in the political arena coupled with my own personal political convictions that lined up well with its charter made too much sense. I came on board as Kansas State Chapter Leader as soon as I saw the National Atheist Party was looking for representatives for each state. Shortly thereafter, I applied for and got the position of Advisory Council Secretary. Within a month I was promoted to Deputy VP of Administration due to my dedication to the tasks and the organizational skills and efficiency I brought to them. Two months thereafter, Mark Smith, one of the original founders of the Party, had to step down due to health reasons, but he full supported my taking on the duties and responsibilities of the VP of Administration. With the support and the confidence of the Executive Board, I came on board as the Acting VP.

It is very important to me that we govern ourselves in a fashion that reflects reason and rationale; this party does that. I’m proud to be associated with the NAP in helping to further the goals of creating a political party that will serve all those who not only believe in a separation of church and state, as well as one that reaffirms that atheists should have a voice in this country that for too long has demanded their silence.

Shelley Segal

From Shelley’s Official Website

“For an atheist, she’s got a hell of a lot of soul”

Segal’s latest release, ‘An Atheist Album,’ embodies her thoughts on religion and has quickly made her “a new pin-up girl for the international atheist movement.” (Barny Zwartz -The Age)

The Melbourne based singer-songwriter became involved in secular activism over two years ago, despite her father being the president of a local synagogue. Her songs are a passionate response to dogmatic belief, inequality, religious oppression and the idea that only the devout can be grateful and good. She enjoys bringing this usually controversial topic to the public discourse and finds music to be a effective medium for expression and raising awareness. ‘I can say what I think for three minutes without anybody interrupting me.” (Melbourne Times City Weekly)

‘An Atheist Album’ gives a voice to the often underrepresented views of non-religious people, the fastest growing minority in many countries. As one youtube fan wrote, “I can always come home and listen to Shelley remind us all that we have a voice and a movement of our own, and that there is hope for the future.”After performing this year at the ‘Reason Rally’ to a crowd of 25,000 in Washington DC, Segal’s music video for her single ‘Saved’ has gone global.

Segal grew up in a musical household. She began singing at the age of three, then writing and performing at eleven. Joining her father’s Jewish wedding band early on provided her with an ease and enjoyment performing and writing across a broad range of styles including pop, folk, jazz, blues, rock and reggae. ‘Saved’ has been described as “jazz singing with a Caribbean-rock melody.” Intimate, story-telling and biographical lyrics are what unifies Shelley’s song-writing across genres.

Shelley accompanies herself on guitar and has been performing her original music around Melbourne and internationally for the last ten years. She has been teaching vocals, music theory and song-writing for seven years. In 2009 she recorded her first EP, a collection of songs written between 2002 and 2008 with acclaimed producer Josh Abrahams at Fishtank Studios.

In 2010, Shelley completed a Bachelor of Applied Music from the Box Hill Institute of Tafe. The same year she also wrote and recorded a song with world-renowned DJ Carl Cox. The track, ‘Chemistry’ was a drum and bass single from his latest album ‘All Roads Lead To The Dance Floor.’ Segal has performed to crowds with Cox at Stereosonic festival and at the iconic Billboard. In November 2011 a remix of ‘Chemistry’ spent two weeks at number one on the techno charts.

This year Shelley launched ‘An Atheist Album’ which has had sales on every continent but Antarctica (though it’s never too late). She also featured on the album ‘Infidelity’ by London socialite Tara Palmer Tomkinson. For the rest of 2012 Shelley will be touring ‘An Atheist Album’ in America, as well as performing at numerous secular events and conferences. This prolific artist has many other musical ventures underway. Upcoming projects include a jazz and folk covers album with her father on the violin, a folk-pop album of love songs titled, ‘My Whinging Vagina’ and an upbeat indie-folk EP with her partner called ‘Snow Pear.’

Balance the Scales with Church Tax Reform

Balance the Scales with Church Tax Reform

The National Atheist Party, as stated in its Tax Reform Platform, seeks to “level the playing field and halt the widening gap between the rich and poor in the U.S.” One strategy for achieving this goal is to enforce the regulations placed on churches, which are automatically granted non-profit status and to demand that they “be as transparent to review and audit as any other business.”  While we at the National Atheist Party are not demanding that they be automatically stripped of their non-profit status, but that the status be questioned and regulated to ensure churches are held to the same standard as all other non-profit organizations

Churches were officially granted 501c3 tax exempt status by Lyndon B. Johnson with the intention to silence them politically.  This type of tax exempt status specifies that if a church speaks out against something legal under U.S. law, it jeopardizes its 501c3 status.  This requirement has clearly been pushed aside and ignored however, as can be demonstrated on issues such as homosexuality and abortion.  Thanks to certain loopholes in the tax codes, churches have gotten away with political interference for decades. One such loophole identifies members of the church as subsidies of the church.  Furthermore, the church it claims no responsibility for politicians who use their power and influence to fulfill a religious agenda.  Consequently, the Liberty Counsel reports that only one church has been challenged and has had its 501c3 status revoked, since the time that tax exemption law was implemented. The courts allowed them to remain tax exempt despite the violation.

The problem with the tax exempt status given to churches is not that it is given, but that it is given without scrutiny.  Churches do not need to apply for this status; it is given to them automatically. While other non-profit organizations are subject to IRS audit to ensure that they are participating in charitable activities, and must file an annual 990 statement itemizing how their donated money was spent, The IRS automatically waives this for all churches, and assumes that they are ALL doing what is expected of them.  If everything ran on the honor system our government would fall apart.

It is simply wrong to ignore the rules and regulations that accompany privilege, particularly since there are multiple ways in which this scrutiny-free process can be abused.  Just a few examples are cited from taxthechurches.org;  “In Hardenburgh, New York several years ago, 235 of the 239 property owners in that town were granted religious tax exemption because the properties of the owners were made branches of the mail-order Universal Life Church.” Without requiring proper documentation, we are allowing unscrupulous people and organizations to enjoy the same tax-exempt freedom as a more respectable organizations, such as the ACLU.  In Wisconsin, “at least $4.2 billion in tax-exempt religious property now exists in that state alone”.  Furthermore, it is easy to see that the amount of church related property not being taxed is enormous and there is currently no practical system in place to assure that they are using this tax free status for the reason it was granted.

Our country is in an economic downturn.  People are protesting corporations and companies which amass needless wealth while most struggle on exponentially less.  Yet no one is questioning the growing UNTAXED wealth of churches and their employees.  Again citing taxthechurches.org,  “…A 1986 estimate showed religious income in that year of approximately $100 billion, or about five times the income of the five largest corporations in the U.S.  All tax free.”  It is not just the organization that is given unwarranted special treatment; it is also those in their service.  A minister can deduct, from his income taxes, such things as rent, utilities, property taxes (if he owns his own home), and according to the IRS website “any other expenses related to providing a home”, which is in essence vague.

Our system works on a careful balance, much like the scales of justice.  When someone receives tax exemption, whether deserved or not, money must come from somewhere else to compensate and keep the scale balanced.  As a result of what some would equate to tax evasion, our economy is suffering and our government refuses to address this imbalance by doing what the laws naturally obligate them to do.  Churches should not be given unquestioned special status, especially when it so drastically affects the American economy.

Religion in Government

Religi☠n in Government

Religion in Government

Just Say No to Religion in Government

Unless you have kept a close eye on news from around the country over the past several months, you may not be aware of an extremely frightening trend that has been developing. In several states around the country, Republican Congressmen and Congresswomen have been introducing bills that are in complete violation of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment clause.  These bills range from those that would place “In God We Trust” on Georgia’s license plates to those that would force children in Indiana’s public schools to recite the Lord’s Prayer each day.  We at the National Atheist Party are shocked and astounded that our elected officials would propose such blatantly unconstitutional legislation in what should be a secular state government.  We wish to publicly denounce all of these pieces of legislation and to remind these elected officials of their duty to uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, rather than abridge the wall of separation and attempt to coerce and force their personal religious beliefs into our schools, our governmental policy.

Indiana

In Indiana, two disturbing bills have been introduced. The first, Indiana Senate Bill No. 251, was authored by Senator Jim Tomes and introduced on January 9, 2012. This legislation would call for “Allowing the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school to provide for the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.”

atheism in Government

According to the authors of this bill, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer is necessary to help students “recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen.” If this bill were to go into effect, each school would have the ability to determine which version of the prayer is to be recited. While the bill does allow students to opt-out from saying the prayer if he or she chooses or if his or her parents choose to be exempt, this is clearly a violation of the separation of church and state. If this SB251 were to pass, it will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

“The implications of this bill are far-reaching, not only would the bill give schools the authority to bring religion into a non-religious setting, but it would also place the burden on families who do not want to participate,” said Indiana State Chapter Leader and National Membership Coordinator Shannon Kietzman, “Those children are at risk of being ostracized due to their difference of religion or lack of belief.  This bill sends a clear message: Christianity is our chosen religion. It further implies that religion is necessary for a person to be of sound character and to be a good citizen. This is an insult to atheists and to all others who do not practice a religion.”

On top of SB 251 is also the looming shadow of SB 89. Authored by Senator Dennis Kruse, SB 251 demonstrates a blatant disregard for Supreme Court decisions regarding the teaching of creationism in the science classrooms. If SB 89 passes, it will amend the Indiana Education code by adding the following section: “Sec. 18. The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.”

Atheist Government

In short, not only are Indiana Senators attempting to force a Christian-specific prayer into public schools, they are also blatantly attempting to insert Christian creationism into the curriculum!

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, Republican Jerry Bergevin (District 17), Gary Hopper (District 7), and John Burt (District 7) are putting forth two pieces of anti-evolution legislation. The first, New Hampshire House Bill 1148, would “[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”

Hopper and Burt have further interjected their beliefs with House Bill 1457, which states: “Require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.”

Religion in state / system

“Every attempt by elected officials to introduce legislation that serves to interject Christian dogma into the function of our government and/or our schools is a slap in the face of every person who is either not a Christian or who does not believe in a god,” said Acting Vice President of Administration pro tempore Susi Bocks. Further adding, “The First Amendment is very clear, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”; in other words, no preference should be shown to any one religion. Our Constitution, with its secular intent, wanted to stay out of the discussion of religion in order to protect the rights of all citizens. Those that would want to ignore the intent of that document want to change our nation into a theocracy. That, we will not stand for.”

agnostic in Government


Missouri


To truly grasp (R-District 124) Missouri’s Rick Brattin’s complete and utter lack of knowledge in the field of science and his sincerity in pushing Intelligent Design/Creationism into Missouri’s public schools’ science classrooms, one must read through the entire bill. A couple of examples include the following direct quotes from Missouri House Bill 1227:

“Biological intelligent design’, a hypothesis that the complex form and function observed in biological structures are the result of intelligence and, by inference, that the origin of biological life and the diversity of all original species on earth are the result of intelligence. Since the inception of each original species, genetic material has been lost, inherited, exchanged, mutated, and recombined to result in limited variation. Naturalistic mechanisms do not provide a means for making life from simple molecules or making sufficient new genetic material to cause ascent from microscopic organisms to large life forms. The hypothesis does not address the time or sequence of life’s appearance on earth, time or formation of the fossil record, and time or method of species extinction. The hypothesis does not require the identity of intelligence responsible for earth’s biology but requires any proposed identity of that intelligence to be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation.

Destiny, the events and processes that define the future of the universe, galaxies, stars, our solar system, earth, plant life, animal life, and the human race and which may be founded upon faith-based philosophical beliefs”     

Brattin has also sponsored HB 1276. This bill would amend Section A. Chapter 170, RSMo to include Section 170.335, which would read:
170.335. 1. The state board of education, …shall endeavor to create an environment within public …schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including biological and chemical evolution. Such educational authorities in this state shall also endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution.

    2. Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, …shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of biological or chemical evolution whenever these subjects are taught within the course curriculum schedule.
    3. This section only protects the teaching of scientific information and this section shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion. Scientific information includes physical evidence and logical inferences based upon evidence.

In short, this bill would force science educators to undermine the Theory of Evolution in the classroom.  While the bill claims to disallow religious inference, that is precisely what the wording opens the doors to.  What reason, beyond the beliefs of creationists, is there to suggest that there is controversy among scientists with regard to the Theory of Evolution?  Perhaps Senator Brattin could enlighten the academic community on what, exactly, is missing from the current textbooks as far as factual information in the field of science.

agnostic in state / system

“The only people who deny evolution are those with a religious ideology that they simply cannot get past”, says Missouri State Chapter Leader Eric Drennen. “Their efforts to insert their religion into the classrooms of public schools is a clear violation of what is known as the ‘Establishment Clause’ of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Teaching our children that Intelligent Design/Creationism is a legitimate, viable theory as to how things came to be the way they are on this planet is nothing short of neglect.”

Georgia

Georgia Senators Bill Heath, Chip Rogers, Lindsey Tippins, Jack Hill and Judson Hill have decided they want to place the nations religious motto, “In God We Trust” on every license plate in the state. This would be made official under SB 293 which reads:
(b) The department shall make available to all license plates recipients a decal with the same dimensions as the printed ‘In God We Trust’ motto containing only the county name. decal that contains the words, ‘In God We Trust.’ The department shall charge any person requesting such county name decal no more than the cost to the department for the manufacture and distribution of such decal.

Under this bill, Georgians who do not want the words “In God We Trust” on their license plates would be charged a fee to purchase a special state-issued decal sticker to cover it up.“The collapsing of church and state into a theocracy is abhorrent to the US Constitution and something that every US citizen should be protesting. The root of the Georgia license plate issue is national; “In God We Trust” must be eliminated as the US motto”, says Georgia Chapter Leader.

A Wall of Separation

religion in authority

“These bills, and especially the timing of their introduction, seem to be a calculated stunt by the Christian Right to display their fidelity to their Christian constituency, rather than a sincere effort to Christianize public school curricula. They can point to this impassable legislation and say that they tried their best, thus cozening those who hold the purse strings and ensure their continued support.”, says Party President Troy Boyle. “If these proposals are NOT such a stunt, then the Christian Right has abandoned 250 years of secularism and is seeking the establishment of a Christian theocracy no different from the governments of the Middle East that they routinely castigate as being religious oppressors.”

Just what do these bills mean to the average American citizen? Our Party stands with the Constitution and the Supreme Court, which has routinely enforced Thomas Jefferson’s Wall of Separation. A quick look through these proposed bills will reveal that they were all introduced by Republican lawmakers, and each of these lawmakers has made it a point to demonstrate their own take on the Christian faith. Then turning around with the same breath and demand we too live according to their personal dogma . Sadly, a very large Christian voting bloc has been in existence for several decades at both the state and the federal level, and this bloc has largely been putting these lawmakers in place.

We strive to bring an end to this trend. We base our platform on sound reasoning and majority unity, especially when it comes to the education of our children in public schools. We need to counteract these individuals and continue to uphold a constitutional separation of a politician’s personal church into our public state. We are reaching out to all secularists. Whether you identify as an Atheist, Theist, Humanist or Deist, if we do not stand up now, together, as a whole, our children will be making the same arguments 40 years from now. What kind of America will our children inherit if we stay docile while the whirling tornado that is the Christian Right consistently  attempt to interject their version of their chosen religion into our daily lives? Join us and say “No!” to religion in government as one voice!

Ryan McCue

Joe Walsh: What will you do for atheist voters?

Joe Walsh: What will you do for atheist voters?

Representative Joe Walsh is the perfect politician to kick-off our National  question campaign.

To learn about the question campaign watch this video, and join the “What will you do for the atheist voters?” campaign page.

Representative Walsh  is a Tea Party Republican who as of January 21, 2012, is serving his first term in the 8th district of Illinois and running for reelection in the new 2012 district, which has been redrawn to favor the Democratic party more than previously. He has a 0% F grade on the Secular Coalition for America‘s Congressional scorecard.  No other candidate scored as low, and obviously no candidate scored worse.

Click here to view the list of legislation that formed the basis for the SCA’s grade.

Click here to view the Illinois scorecard.

There are two votes that stand out from other candidates who did poorly.  One is RC 601 HR 33: Church Plan Investment Clarification Act.

Explanation: HR 33 would have amended the Securities Act of 1933 to allow certain securities issued in connection with retirement income accounts available only to certain kinds of church plans to be treated as exempted from registration and disclosure requirements under the act.
Bill Status: The bill passed in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves a “nay” vote: This measure offered no comparable exemption to secular nonprofits, resulting in a religious privilege in securities law for churches and clergy.

 From SCA’s Congressional Scorecard

Many Illinois representatives issued no vote. Other democrats and republicans voted yes, and so did Representative Walsh.

The second bill of note is RC 673 HR 440: To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.

Explanation: HR 440 would have directed the president to appoint a special envoy to promote religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia within the State Department. It would require the Special Envoy to: (1) promote the right of religious freedom of religious minorities, denounce the violation of such right, and recommend appropriate U.S government responses to such violations; (2) monitor and combat acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeted against such religious minorities; (3) ensure that the needs of such religious minority communities are addressed, including economic and security needs directly tied to religious-based discrimination and persecution; (4) work with foreign governments of such countries to address inherently discriminatory laws; and (5) coordinate and assist in the preparation of specified reports required by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Bill Status: The bill passed in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves an “aye” vote: This measure allows the executive branch to act on behalf of religious minorities in areas of the world where they are being actively persecuted. Though nontheists are not mentioned, the Secular Coalition is lobbying for their inclusion.

From SCA’s Congressional Scorecard

Walsh was the only Illinois representative to vote ”nay” on this bill.

Additionally, Represenative Walsh features a list of 28 Founding Principles of the United States on his websitewhich consists of some principles that should be disturbing to any citizen who values a secular government.  They are certainly offensive to any and every atheist.

Principle 1 – The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.

Principle 2 – A free people cannot survive under a republican constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong.

Principle 3 – The most promising method of securing a virtuous people is to elect virtuous leaders.

Principle 4 – Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained.

Principle 5 – All things were created by God, therefore upon him all mankind are equally dependent, and to him they are equally responsible.

Principle 8 – Mankind are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights.

Principle 9 – To protect human rights, God has revealed a code of divine law.

Principle 10 – The God-given right to govern is vested in the sovereign authority of the whole people.

Principle 28 – The United States has a manifest destiny to eventually become a glorious example of God’s law under a restored Constitution that will inspire the entire human race.

The notion that supernatural authority is needed for humans to acheive freedom, basic rights, or virture is disturbing to any human being who values these yet doesn’t need supernatural beings or religious doctrine to acheive them. Further, Principle 28 uses disturbing language that sounds like justification for theocracy.

While Representative Walsh is the first politician to go on the record for our campaign, we are not picking on him for how poorly he represents atheists and secular advocates, nor for how grossly his policy positions diverge from that of the National Atheist Party. Every single politician in the nation should have a NAP member or other secular activist walk up to them and ask this simple question on the record:

How will you represent atheist voters?
https://web.archive.org/web/20130602155835if_/http://www.youtube.com/embed/1zAQVRekQFQ

At the event, Representative Walsh requested more information on the Secular Coalition for America. I sent the following e-mail to his event coordinator per his request and in reply to some of the comments he made at the event.

Greetings,

I would like to say that I greatly appreciate Rep. Walsh holding town halls and engaging his constituents directly so often. I also respect how forthright he was in his answers and in demanding respectful discussion from his audience.

Obviously, I would also ask on behalf of the National Atheist Party and as a voter in his district that he apply the constitutional mandate of the separation of church and state. So, while I appreciate that he respects my right to have a different opinion, his actions and response make it clear that he doesn’t respect the fact that religious doctrine and supernatural belief have no part in governance and political policy.

Further, his assertion that this country was founded by god-fearing men and an adherence to the golden rule, I would say, is somewhat true. What some christians conveniently leave out is what even cursory historical scholarship makes clear. This country was also founded by a number of deists and ardent secularists, who, from their personal writings, we might surmise that a belief in a magical, omniscient being in the sky was something they found not reasonable to assume without evidence: thereby, making them, by definition, atheists. Additionally the golden rule is a transcendent, secular value having nothing to do with supernatural belief. It can be found in Hammurabi’s Code and ancient Egyptian stories that predate christian mythology by hundreds and hundreds of years.

However, that argument from authority is completely irrelevant. The fact is our founding documents — and later clarification by the very individuals who drafted them and founded this country — make it very clear that government should have NO influence in the freedom to believe or disbelieve in supernatural claims. And, supernatural claims and religious influence should be separate from government. Vague, quote-mined references to gods by one or more founding fathers does not constitute a justification for what they actually advocated and put into law and, with the intent of their language – especially James Madison and Thomas Jefferson – later clarified in further writings.

I won’t give you a huge list, as anyone can find and review these documents if they wish or choose not to purposefully ignore them because they disagreed with a personally held belief. But, I will submit the following for you to consider, as a sample:

James Madison, Jefferson’s close friend and political ally, was just as vigorously opposed to religious intrusions into civil affairs as Jefferson was. In 1785, when the Commonwealth of Virginia was considering passage of a bill “establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion,” Madison wrote his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” in which he presented fifteen reasons why government should not become involved in the support of any religion. This paper, long considered a landmark document in political philosophy, was also cited in the majority opinion in Lee vs. Weisman. The views of Madison and Jefferson prevailed in the Virginia Assembly, and in 1786, the Assembly adopted the statute of religious freedom of which Jefferson and Madison were the principal architects. The preamble to this bill said that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” The statute itself was much more specific than the establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution. “Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise [sic] diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

Sincerely,

President’s Address – On Atheism and Agnosticism

agnostic presidents - Government - On Atheism and Agnosticism

Atheism and Agnosticism are not incompatible at all. The problem is the colloquial understanding of agnosticism – it has been mis-defined in peoples’ minds as “I have my own belief, which may include a god figure or not.”

In fact, atheism is a position on theistic belief, and agnosticism is a position on theistic KNOWLEDGE. An atheist doesn’t believe that any god(s) or goddess(es) or supernatural claims exist because there is no evidence in favor of them. A theist believes in the existence of a god(s) or goddess(es) regardless of evidence.

A gnostic believes that they KNOW god exists, usually from subjective sources (personal feelings, anecdotes, testimonials), while an agnostic believes that god CANNOT be known, because it would be akin to the bacteria KNOWING the researcher on the other end of the microscope – its impossible to know something that is so far above/beyond us.

So, you can have one of four possible positions: agnostic atheist / gnostic atheist; and agnostic theist / gnostic theist.

About 90% of atheists are agnostic atheists (or “weak” atheists) – which means that they do not believe in god because no unambiguous proof has ever been put forward in favor of one.

10% or less of atheists are gnostic (or “strong”) atheists – who believe that evidence has been sought, and the lack of discovery PROVES that there is no god.

Likewise, about 80% of theists are agnostic theists – they admit that science will never find evidence for god, but believe there is one regardless.

Unfortunately there is a sizable and growing 20% of theists that are gnostic theists – they claim to KNOW there is a god. These are the fundamentalists, who believe that “speaking in tongues” is a real experience, or that children do not need to go to the doctor because, if their children die of whatever ailment, then it is “God’s will.” Gnostic theists frighten me, frankly.

And there you have it.

In that four-quadrant grid, I vacillate between gnostic and agnostic, though always an atheist. The epistemologist in me admits that there is a tiny percentage of a chance that there is a literal Creator – no matter how small, but really, most of the time I’m very convinced that there isn’t one at all. I’m reminded of the old saying:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270