Assistance Requested
Scott Hackney

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Scott Hackney"
Subject: Re: Assistance Requested
Date: Saturday, February 05, 2000 4:08 PM

After struggling through your message, I have this to say: We have been forging relationships and communications with theists since our break with United States Atheists. In doing this, we emulate such organizations as Americans United for Separations of Church and State, but carry it one step further in making our stated goal the dignity of atheists and a broader understanding of what atheism is and is not.

The result is that most of the Christians that Mencken described as "off-duty" are willing to be open to our message, even if it is the first time they've encountered such ideas. It is the "off-duty" type that represents the majority, because they are not (at the moment) being whipped into a loyalistic frenzy. We do well to avoid the same trap and to understand that most people believe for a reason -- even if it's simply that they have never critically examined the creed of their youth. I addressed this in the (as yet unposted) January, 2000 editorial.

Thus, we advocate a policy of leaving people alone -- unless and until they want to enforce their religion on the rest of us. This includes such seemingly innocuous things as placing "IN GOD WE TRUST" on United States currency (which occurred during the McCarthy era of the 1950s) and allowing religious symbols to be placed on highways to mark a traffic fatality (to be addressed in the upcoming column for the February, 2000 edition).

As for uniting atheists in a general way, I say it cannot be done and should not be tried; we can better spend our resources. I will not get into why it cannot or should not be done, but I can suggest some "smaller" projects: State-Church separation; dignity for atheists; establishing help (charity) programs that instill humanistic values; opening doors of communication with liberal clergy and theistic lay-leaders; stop trying to convert theists into atheists (let reality do that); back off on the practice of putting down others' beliefs (as recently expressed by Al Gore and summarized by James Still in his piece, "Al Gore on Arrogant Atheists" that we published in our January, 2000 issue).

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

Graphic Rule

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