On Dan Jarvis, And
Hovind's 300 Creationist Lies
Johan Grahn

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Johan Grahn"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Monday, July 03, 2000 2:33 PM

I have added a response from the James Randi Educational Foundation to Hovind's claims. I will also add your response, and will eventually create a new file that will excerpt his original comment on Hovind, my initial response, the Randi Response, your response, and any others we get.

I also linked Buddika's 300 Creationist Lies on our Web Guide -- despite the fact that it is a GeoCities page. I wish more atheistic groups would host such pages rather than doing the self-promotion that they seem to spend so much space on. We will be weeding out about a megabyte of graphics and will be trimming some other material so we can afford to put more timely stuff on our site -- which has now grown to over 44 megabytes.

Our only position on religious groups is this: that they be held to the same laws as the rest of us. In other words, if it is illegal to neglect my child's health by refusing to give it medical care, then the same should hold for a Christian Science practitioner. If it is legal for a Native American to eat peyote, it should not be a crime for me. I also side with Joseph Lewis when he says that "faith healers" such as Oral Roberts ought to be held culpable for fraud when it can be proven. Currently, we allow such frauds to go uncompensated in the name of "religious freedom." But a crime is a crime, wither it is a white-collar crime or a black-collar crime. Otherwise, even if they want to be bigots, we shouldn't "stoop" to that level and try to change them, thinking our way to be superior. Every theist holds what he or she thinks are valid reasons for believing.

Otherwise, our position regards our government: It is the government that should not entangle itself with religion -- by sponsoring prayer services, by printing religious mottoes, by sentencing "alcoholics" to attend the patently religious Twelve Step programs and treatment methods, by giving money to faith-based charities (when it is everyone's job to take care of the poor, so the government should erect centers to help the poor when it is our money that is involved), by giving money to religious schools for any reason.

The government should also not prevent the free practice of religion (except when such practice violates a law that the rest of us would be punished for violating -- then we need to reexamine the law, not the religion, and decide if it is a crime, and punish any who commit that crime, religious or not). This means that if a prisoner is a Satanist, he or she should be given the same opportunity to practice his or her faith as a Roman Catholic would. And Episcopalians should be allowed to drink real wine for Communion. This does not mean that a representative of the government, while on duty, is allowed to use his or her official position to propagate or to enforce his or her private religious beliefs: Judge Roy Moore is wrong for posting -- in our courtroom, not his -- an abbreviated reading of the Protestant version of the First Stone Tablets edition of the Ten Commandments. (Have you read what the Second Stone Tablets allegedly said?) Teachers cannot lead prayer and city bus drivers cannot hand out pamphlets while on duty.

Nonetheless, we are not out to "de-convert" anyone. Our target audience consists of those who are already atheists. While we will not and cannot prevent theists from visiting, and we will grant theists the same dignity we would atheists (and treat both with the same standards), our target audience consists of atheists. Notwithstanding, we do publish and post lots of material that has been written by theists. For example, our last three issues (April, May, and the upcoming June edition) have featured pieces written by theists. In doing this, we hope to open doors of communication between atheists and theists. However, we speak only to atheists, and really have nothing to say to theists; we speak to theists only when spoken to.

To paraphrase Madalyn Murray O'Hair and many others, No we don't.

We can let them believe what they want. We can do this without fear that they will "take over." All we need to do is be diligent in educating ourselves about our rights, seek out theists (and atheists) who agree with the concept of religious liberty, and work with them to ensure that these liberties remain intact.

Methinks you are not rambling. You are here putting into practice the core values of "Positive Atheism."

This is very important, and I could only wish that I had known these values when I used to go into chat rooms several years ago. All I can do now is hope that other atheists will learn from your stated values and set a better example: I am tired of answering to other atheists' "crimes" when it is not me who is spiteful and vindictive. However, the accusation that many atheists are spiteful and vindictive is a just one, and the activities in the chat rooms don't help our situation any.

In fact, if you would like to come up with a rough draft of your "Chat Room Etiquette," I will comment on it and send both out to our list. Perhaps we could come up with a final version of "Chat Room Etiquette" -- Positive Atheism style -- and popularize it. Gaud nose I have made every mistake in the book when it comes to chat rooms (both atheistic and Twelve Step) and this is one way I can redeem myself of my past sins!

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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