Birla Award Goes
To Saraswathi Gora
Dr. Goparaju Vijayam

Saraswathi Gora and her late husband, Gora
Saraswathi Gora and her late husband, Gora (1902-75)

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Official Response:

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Positive Atheism List"
Subject: Saraswathi Gora wins Birla Award for Humanism
Date: Thursday, March 08, 2001 11:17 PM

Dr. Vijayam:

Thank you for this announcement: it is thrilling news, indeed! I will put this out on my e-mail list and post it in the Atheism in India section shortly. Saraswathi Gora and her family and associates have accomplished in India what seems impossible from a Western standpoint: she and her family have succeeded in showing the ideology of atheism to be an important element in the struggle to better the condition of our fellow-humans. This has not happened on a large scale in America since the days of the Suffragists (whose accomplishments we honor today, March 8th, which is International Women's Day).

Quick to emphasize getting the job done over who gets credit for the work, we Americans have quickly forgotten the vital roles that the struggles against repressive religious institutions, thinking, and ways of life have played in making our world what it is today. We have forgotten that many of the scientific and medical advances we all take for granted, as well as many of the human liberties, were gained despite formidable and often vicious opposition from the Church.

That opposition continues today, and is just as vicious as it ever was. Fortunately, many of the Church's weapons have been dismantled: they are no longer allowed to put us to death for disagreeing with them, and they no longer control the forefronts of scientific research and education. Although the Roman Catholic Church still controls a large portion of the industry which dispenses medical care in the U.S., they must abide by the standards set down by the government: no longer is the government subject to the whims of the Church.

But the opposition works tirelessly and with vast amounts of resources at their disposal. Our fight is not over. It may never be over. Though it was popular during the Enlightenment to pronounce the death of religion, Thomas Jefferson sounded dire warnings that we could lose our Liberty if we don't continue to fight for it. Never has the prospect of losing our Liberty seemed more realistic than during the recent presidential election, where both major parties agreed with each other that the separation of religion from government is, to them, a bad idea.

Many atheists in America are extremely discouraged. We can, however, look to the accomplishments of Saraswathi Gora and her family and associates and see that never will our efforts be in vain: we will always make progress if we simply do the work that is necessary to achieve our goals. We have never had the luxury of assuming that the right decisions will be made simply because they are the right decisions. In America, we are now beginning to see that unless we continue to work for our Liberty and our dignity, we will lose both.

With this, I extend a note of congratulations to Saraswathi Gora, and with it, a warm "Thank You!" for setting an example that we now find ourselves needing to consider both for ourselves and for our country.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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Personal Response:

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Vijayam Goparaju" <drvijayam@rediffmail.com>
Subject: Re: Birla Award to Saraswathi Gora, Atheist Centre
Date: Thursday, March 08, 2001 9:09 PM

I will put this out on my list and post it in the Atheism in India section.

I soon hope to have a complete collection of Positive Atheism and her predecessor for Atheist Centre's library. I will need to verify their correct address (the one on Benz Circle?) and also do not have a telephone number for them.

I have taken the core of Gora's philosophy, the ethic of integrity and the insistence on truthfulness, and proposed that individual atheists in the West emphasize this element within our personal systems of ethics.

Our goal is to address the terrible stigma and bigotry that atheists in America endure, by emphasizing this personal ethic among others. Since there are no books on how to deal with anti-atheist bigotry, this is all just a big experiment. We are learning a lot, and trying out different things as we go along. A complete record of our attempts (and our failures) exists online in our Letters section.

If you would like to work out a way for the workers at Atheist Centre to become active online -- even if it's through writing postal letters back and forth -- I would be more than happy to sponsor this effort. I'm sure that more than a few readers would like to be able to ask questions of the workers and to receive replies.

However, I do not have a current telephone number for them, and thus cannot verify that the address I have is still correct.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.