RSS Feed

Outreach & Events

Past Conventions

2014 Convention  
Los Angeles, Calif.

Videos & More!

Raleigh Regional Convention

May 2 – 3

Raleigh Convention

National Convention

October 9-10, 2015

Madison, Wis.

Upcoming Events & Appearances

Appearances, Debates, Speeches and More

%888 %America/Chicago, %2013

Christian Terrorism In Oklahoma City

When extremists from predominantly Moslem countries commit violence, many in the media refer to them as "Islamic terrorists." Why is no one calling the Oklahoma City bombing suspects "Christian terrorists"?

The militias being investigated are called simply "right-wing" and "anti-government," but these hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, all have bible-based agendas. Timothy McVeigh is a Catholic. The Oklahoma City bomb was detonated on the anniversary of the raid on David Koresh's Christian militia in Waco.

Ignoring the obvious religious connections here, everyone seems eager to turn this tragedy into an opportunity to acknowledge a deity. Oklahoma City invited Billy Graham and President Clinton to pray publicly to their god in an effort to lend some "meaning" to it all. Don't they see the irrationality of praying to this supposedly omniscient and omnipotent deity?

If I had known what was about to happen at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, and if I had had the ability to prevent the horror, I would have tried. Wouldn't you?

But Billy Graham's all-knowing God (let's pretend he exists) observed the truck being loaded with explosives. He sat alongside the driver on the trip from Kansas, knowing what he had in mind. He noticed the laughing children entering the day-care center.

Graham's all-powerful "God of love" easily could have prevented the detonation. Yet he did nothing.

Graham and Clinton should not be asking their God for comfort. They should be asking him, "Whose side are you on?"

What would you call someone who could have stopped the killing, yet sat by and let it happen? I would call him an accomplice.

Yet FBI Director Louis Freeh, knowing that his main suspect is Catholic and is associated with Christian right-wing militia groups, called the Oklahoma bombing a "godless act."

There is no reason for our government to equate "godless" with "evil." The facts of history show that most terrorism and war have some kind of religious motivation. The recent chemical warfare in Japan waged by the "Supreme Truth" religious cult is one example. Since Christianity has a history of bloody persecution, wouldn't it make more sense for Freeh to identify religion as the culprit here?

After all, Jesus reportedly said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword." This sounds like "Christian terrorism" to me.

Published in Back Issues
%781 %America/Chicago, %2013

You Won't Believe You're Reading This

Didn't Wait Long

Organized antiabortion protesting resumed at a Boston Planned Parenthood clinic only 90 days after an employee there was slain by a gunman on Dec. 30. About 90 people gathered on Feb. 11 to harass clinic workers and patients, praying and holding rosaries. Source: Washington Post, 2/12/95

Bangladesh Rape Victim Flogged

Instead of convicting her rapist, a self-appointed village "court" of 13 priests in Bakshipara, Bangladesh sentenced a 20 year old rape victim to 80 lashes with a bamboo cane for having "unlawful sex"--because she could not produce 3 male witnesses. Hazera Begum, 20, passed out after 35 blows. Source: AP/Kenosha News, 12/19/94

Another Religious Criminal

Recently convicted sex abuser Tupac Shakur, a rapper, invoked God during his sentencing for gang-raping a female fan. Shakur got a light sentence of 1.5-4.5 years. Source: New York Post, 2/8/95

Not Comforting

A Washington Post poll of 1,011 adults over Dec. 9-13 found that 59% disapproved of the Supreme Court ruling against required reading of the Lord's Prayer or bible verses in public schools, and 64% approved "a moment for voluntary silent prayer or meditation daily." Source: Washington Post, 1/1/95

How About Chocolate Electric Chairs?

Easter is coming . . . and so are the candy crucifixes! Real fundies don't hand out chocolate eggs and jelly beans, but chocolate crucifixes, made by Madelaine Chocolate Novelties, Inc., "one of our most popular Easter items." Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 3/31/94

Holy Ghost Believers

A nationwide poll of college students found 71% believe in ghosts, 75% in the Big Ghost In The Sky. Good News: almost a quarter (23%) reject god belief. Source: U. Magazine, 10/94

Pastor: Shoot All Liberals?

Jerry Prevo of Anchorage Baptist Temple, blamed liberals during a sermon on Oct. 16 for a possible financial collapse of the nation: "Let me tell you, the liberals know what's happening. I think I'd be for gun control, too, I'd be for banning guns, too, i f I were a liberal. Since I'm not, I'm not for it [gun control]. I may want to use one, one of these days. The only reason I would not take a gun and do it is because of God. That's the only reason."

During Prevo's "Scare the Liberals" Sunday on October 30, 2,500 packed the church as various Republican candidates sat in the front row. Featured speaker was Bailey Smith, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who once declared, "God doesn't hear the prayers of Jews." Source: Anchorage Daily News, 10/22/94

We've Got Trouble . . .

Operation PUSH of Chicago announced a new campaign to enlist 100 pastors to establish 100 Boy Scout troops with 100 boys each (no unbelievers admitted, of course)--with the help of the public schools, of course. Source: Kup-Chicago Sun Times, 12/4/94

Vatican Fires Bishop

The Vatican "fired" French Bishop Jacques Gaillot of Evreux--defender of priestly marriage and condom use by gays--in an almost unprecedented action. Source: AP/Hartford Courant, 1/14/95

Pity The Foxes

A traditional Hindu festival involves ritual torture and slaughter of rare red foxes. Drunken worshippers sew the foxes' mouths shut, pierce their ears, tie lighted firecrackers to their tails and leave them to die at a temple. A court in India just banned the "worship." Source: New York Post, 1/6/95

Safer To Be A Freethinker

The bodies of nearly 50 men, women and children, ages 10-72, were found in a gutted farmhouse and 3 chalets near Geneva on Oct. 5. The murder/suicides were related to the Quebec-based Order of Solar Temple, and The Cross and the Rose. Source: London Free Press, 11/6/94

You Heard It Here

The Millennial Prophecy Report out of Philadelphia tracks 1,100 groups which believe the apocalypse is at hand, including one which claims elderly Nazis hiding at the South Pole will take over the planet (with help from space aliens), and another prophesying a monster quake will turn Phoenix into a seaport and unearth Atlantis by 1997. Source: LA Times/Columbia Missourian, 9/25/94

GOP & Antis Too Cozy

The National Republican Senatorial Committee contributed $175,000 to the National Right to Life Committee just before last fall's election, violating election laws, letting the GOP evade spending limits and rules by running it through a nonprofit group. Source: Washington Post, 2/12/95

Public School Prayer Room!

A public high school in Portland, Maine established a temporary prayer room for Muslim students so they could pray at sunset per religious edict.

Falwell Distributes Anti-Clinton Tapes

Character-assassinating videos depicting President Clinton as a philanderer, cocaine abuser and even murderer are being distributed by the UnRev. Jerry Falwell through his weekly Old Time Gospel Hour. Falwell refused Clinton�s evangelical friend Rev. Tony Campolo time to give a 5-minute rebuttal of the underground videos, "Clinton's Circle of Power" and "The Clinton Chronicles." Source: Washington Post, 1/27/95

Smith's Christian Coalition Connection

Devoutly religious Susan Smith, charged with drowning her 2 small sons in South Carolina, had accused her stepfather of molesting her when she was 16. Her stepfather, Beverly Russell, is a state Republican executive committeeman and member of the advisory board of the Christian Coalition. Source: AP, 11/27/94

Preaching School Bus Driver Unrepentant

The ACLU has complained that Mary S. Burke, a school bus driver in Spraggs, PA, often prays at students and has given them bibles. "Every Friday morning at 7:50, after the last student gets on the bus, the children say 'The Lord's Prayer,' " she brags. Source: AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/26/95

God Gets The Blame

Sen. John Danforth (R-MO) gives the credit for Clarence Thomas' appointment to the Supreme Court to a hasty prayer session in the rest room of a Senate office during Senate hearings, according to Danforth's new book, Resurrection: The Confirmation of Clarence Thomas. In attendance: Danforth, his wife Sally, Thomas, his wife Ginny, and--of course--God. Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 9/12/94

Unfair To Chickens

An Associated Press photographer captured an ultraorthodox father in Jerusalem during the Jewish High Holy Days shaking a live chicken over the head of his daughter while saying a prayer to transfer her sins to the chicken. Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 9/14/94

Religion Dangerous To Health

More than 2,200 Israelis needed medical treatment following a 25-hour food & drink fast during a Yom Kippur heat wave. Source: Appeal-Democrat, 9/94

We Bless Cars

Russian Orthodox priests in Moscow are busy blessing apartments, bars, casinos and even cars on the street. One priest, sporting a sign "We Bless Cars," charges $15-$25 to bless autos with incense, prayers and holy water. Source: AP/Inland Valley Bulletin, 8/7/94

Miracle Mass Causes Stampede

When 50,000 Catholics congregated around a Brazzaville church in the Congo to hear a preacher advertised as working miracles, 142 of them, mostly children, were crushed or suffocated to death in a stampede; 118 people were injured. Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 8/14/94

Holy Redeemer Is Right!

Worshippers are encouraged to place casino chips in the collection plate at the $3.5 million Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church on the Las Vegas Strip. Source: Standard-Examiner, 11/24/94

Oops

Anti-Brady Law gun advocate Herbert Kershaw, pastor of the New Life Christian Fellowship, Enfield, NH, accidentally shot himself to death while demonstrating gun safety to his family. Source: Hartford Courant, 11/2/94

A Fool & His Money . . .

Developer Charles Witte is looking for a likely spot to build a $5 million prayer "mountain" near Toledo, OH, to be made of reinforced concrete and covered with artificial snow. Source: AP/Norwich Bulletin, 2/4/95

666 Is Deep-Sixed

A school reassigned numbers after parents complained when their little boy was given the "number of the beast," No. 666, by an automated computer system in Evansville, IN. Source: Norwich Bulletin, 1/20/95

What's His Electric Bill?

Jennings Osbourne of Little Rock was ordered by the Arkansas Supreme Court to dim his display of 3 million Christmas lights, following complaints by neighbors that the display spreading over three lots is disruptive, obnoxious and unsafe. Source: AP, 12/18/94

Mercury-Poisoned Worshippers

Cuban and Haitian communities such as Santeria, Voodoo and other Afro-Caribbean religionists, routinely sprinkle mercury, found in capsules known as botanicas, around themselves and homes, even babies' cribs. Seventeen families in Belle Glade, FL, were evacuated while Environmental Protection agents measured mercury levels. Source: N.Y. Times News Service, 9/14/94

Fickle, Fickle

When Episcopal priest Allan Hawkins recently converted to Catholicism, he took his entire 200 parishioners in Arlington, TX, with him. Source: AP, 6/21/94

Exorcists' Wrists Slapped

Two religious zealots were sentenced to several months of prison, and two received suspended sentences, for the 1993 exorcism death of Joan Vollmer, 49, Horsham, Australia, who died after her husband and 3 others held her on a chair for 4 hours in 102-degree heat, slapped her and stroked her carotid artery, triggering a heart attack. Source: AP: 12/2/94

Sexual Assault By Exorcism

The pastor and 5 members of a Protestant charismatic church in Nuremberg, were indicted for sexually assaulting a woman by using force to anoint her genital area when she resisted an exorcism. Source: St. Joseph News-Press, 8/2/94

Not For Amateurs

Leave exorcisms to the experts, said officials from the Catholic Church in Canada, following the manslaughter death in January of an Ontario girl, 2, allegedly at the hands of her Catholic grandmother, Portuguese mother and 2 neighbors. Source: Star Phoenix, 1/19/95

Mary Gets Around

About 8,000 descended on "the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows" in Belleville, KY, last September, while others claim she is in Emmitsburg, MD. "Visions" there have tripled attendance at St. Joseph's Catholic Church and caused traffic, parking and litter problems. Meanwhile, Nancy Fowler of Conyers, GA, who has been attracting as many as 30,000 pilgrims at a time since 1990, announced the Virgin would no longer always appear to her on the 13th of each month, but may ration future visits. Rosa Lopez also claims Mary visits her on the 13th of each month in her tract house in Hollywood, FL, and other sightings have been reported in Marlboro, NJ, Denver; Scottsdale, AZ, and Cold Spring, KY.

Not to be outdone, Jesus can be found in the bathroom window of a home in Santa Monica, CA, where 300-700 believers show up daily to stand in the bathtub and see a cross through frosted glass. Sources: Arizona Republic, 9/10/94; Detroit Free Press, 6/15/94; AP,9/23/94; AP/Columbia Daily Tribune, 10/16/94

Now We've Heard Everything!

A Christian Scientist who refused to take a blood test after being stopped for drunken driving asked a judge to block state efforts to suspend his license for a year, saying it violates his religious beliefs. Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Arrest Anyone Having Fun!

The provincial government in Islamabad, Pakistan banned all partying on New Year's Eve: "Several police parties will raid any place where there is a party going on and any one who is having a fun time will be arrested, no matter how rich or influential he is," an Urdu-language newspaper quoted Punjab provincial Chief Minister Mansoor Wattoo as saying. The ban came after threats by members of the Party of Islam to smash cars of partygoers. Source: AP/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 12/31/94

Holyland Heroes?

Cashing in on Power Rangers' popularity with children, a Vermont toy maker is marketing 5 violent Holyland Heroes sets (Samson & Philistine; David & Goliath, Judas & Syrian warrior, Moses & Ramses II, Joshua & Canaanite), featuring muscular, grimacing toys wielding spears, swords and, in Samson's case, the jawbone of a donkey--which the bible says he used to smite 1,000 men. Source: AP/Norwich Bulletin, 2/11/95

Published in Back Issues

Officials in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and its state highway commission have been stonewalling since the Freedom From Religion Foundation went public with its objections to a large cross--memorializing prayers by three Catholic missionaries to convert Native Americans in 1699--which is on a state right of way near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. (See April 1995)

The Southeast Missourian initially reported on March 29 that an official in Jefferson City was considering moving the concrete cross because state right of way was expanded a few years ago. "We're looking into possibly relocating that to somewhere off of the right of way," said state official Tom Dollus.

Following public outcry, officials contradicted themselves, reporting that they were planning to give a 9-foot-wide section of land containing the cross and its religious inscription to the adjoining property owner. The reason? The state suddenly realized it had too much right of way.

"While we appreciated the state's recognition that it should not own property with religious symbols on it, of course we also objected to a give-away of public land for religious purposes. It appeared the State of Missouri was more interested in having the cross remain on the spot then in protecting the interests of the state," noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, who is handling the Foundation's complaint.

In the next development, the Missouri Highway Commission admitted it had no authority to give away the land. Then it voted at its April 7 meeting that it had no authority to do anything at all about the cross, period.

"Are the people going to let somebody from Wisconsin tell them what to do?" said Highway Commissioner John Oliver Jr. of Cape Girardeau. "We're not likely to surrender that to anybody."

More stonewalling is expected when the commission meets in May.

Some of the hate language decried recently by President Clinton has been directed to the Foundation over this matter. The Southeastern Missourian, Cape Girardeau's newspaper, printed nearly a full page of anonymous "Speak Out" comments on March 31, including this choice hate remark:

"As if we didn't have enough storm troopers from our big-brother government, we now have the self-appointed Gestapo of the Freedom From Religion Foundation poking their noses into our business and exposing their ignorance. Anyone but a fool knows that the Cape LaCroix cross is an historical monument. Annie Gayler (sic), whose ignorance is only exceeded by her arrogance, apparently doesn't have anything useful to do and should be put to work picking up trash from the highway she's misusing. She and her organization should be treated as any other vermin: stepped on and sprayed with a toxic substance."

Others voiced such "original" ideas as, "If people don't like God, they can move out of the United States" and "Tell them to move to Russia."

The Southeast Missourian editorialized on April 1, 1995:

"Anti-religious zealots are trying to wipe any mention of God and religion from the face of government. . . . This is the same group that is trying to remove 'In God We Trust' from U.S. currency. And it is the same group that is suing Colorado for having the Ten Commandments on a stone in the state Capitol. If they win, Missouri's Capitol Jefferson City may be next.

"Where will it all end. Next the group may target our city cemeteries, which contain several crosses. Will graves have to be dug up if ancestors want loved ones to stay with their original monuments?

". . . Bit by bit, all religious references are disappearing from government and education. This mirrors a rise in violence, corruption and family decay in America. . . . Three cheers for the highway department. It has enabled Missourians to return to the notion of majority rule."

If you think the editorial staff at this newspaper has been listening to too much of their hometown boy Rush Limbaugh (we've never heard the gravedigging accusation before!) write: Southeastern Missourian, PO Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63702-0699. Letters may be sent to the Department of Highways & Transportation, PO Box 270, Jefferson City MO 65102.


Similar stonewalling has greeted the Foundation's newest complaint about religious symbols on public right of ways. In April the Foundation complained to the Mayor of Wellsville, Ohio, and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) over the illegal placement of a sign saying "Jesus Is Lord of Wellsville" near state Route 7.

A recent news article from the Lisbon Morning Journal reported that the city council of Wellsville voted to place the proselytizing sign 11 years ago, also seeking explicit permission from the ODOT. Permission from both public bodies was once again sought when the sign was recently replaced. The back side reads: "I love you, come to me personally . . . Jesus." It stands right next to the official Wellsville identification sign.

"One is reminded of the signs that used to appear in the Deep South warning Blacks not to show their faces after sundown. The message this sends is that the community is exclusively Christian and that nonChristians--Jews, atheists and agnostics, among others--are not welcome," wrote Gaylor to the mayor. She noted: "This is not a friendly message. It's a message of a conquering religion."

The Foundation pointed out that the presence of the sign on public property violates Art. I, Sect. 7 of the Ohio Constitution, mandating that "nobody shall be compelled to . . . maintain any form of worship" and that "no preference shall be given, by law, to any religious society."

No official replies have been received from Ohio officials. However, the mayor has told various reporters that he suddenly realized the sign is not even on city property after all these years. Mayor Wayne Elliott, who described himself as a "born again Christian" to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, also contacted Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice.

Randall Howard of ODOT told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the agency is cracking down by federal order on billboards, and will look over the Wellsville sign "in due course," but "would be basically blind to the religious message."

You may write Jerry Wray, Director, Ohio Department of Transportation, at 25 S Front St., Columbus OH 43215 or Mayor Wayne Elliot, 1200 Main St., Wellsville OH 43968.

To Be Continued . . .

Published in Back Issues
%764 %America/Chicago, %2013

Protests Continue Over Bibles On Ferries

When he learned about the Foundation's complaint over the presence of Gideon bibles on the Alaska Ferry System, which depart from Bellingham, Washington, longtime Washington Foundation member Dr. Howard McGaw gamely agreed to do something about it.

On "Good Friday," April 14, Howard, 84, a retired professor from Western Washington University, and a few supporters took the case for state/church separation directly to ferry passengers boarding at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Howard, who is a life member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Foundation members Joe Randell, George Guilmet, Pat and Don Burnet and Karen Bloomquist all wore "Keep State & Church Separate: Religion Is Divisive" Foundation buttons, and handed out a Foundation flyer about the controversy (see copy below).

The leafletting received prominent coverage in the Bellingham Herald, also resulting in an interview of Howard by a local TV station.

"The state ferry system, by inviting the Gideons to put the bibles on the boats, is actively discriminating against nonChristian and nonreligious people," Howard told the Bellingham Herald.

Reporter Kevin Perron of the Herald noted ironically that one passenger boarding that afternoon was a member of a "biker-church" planning to pass out his own bibles.

The ferry leafletting is the latest attempt by the Foundation to persuade the State of Alaska to stop promoting religion. Following its initial complaints, the Foundation office recently sent Gov. Tony Knowles samples of its "bible warning labels" showing the inappropriateness of mixing state and bible.

Wrote Freethought Today editor Annie Laurie Gaylor to Gov. Knowles: "Fanatics who can't last the night without their bibles take precautions to travel with their own. The rest of us have the right to be free from state-sponsored and endorsed evangelizing when we are traveling on public transportation."

Attorney Jeffrey J. Kassel on behalf of the Foundation wrote Knowles to protest the state's determination that placing Foundation materials in the private staterooms along with Gideon Bibles "is not in the best interest of the state."

Wrote Kassel:

"The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from that statement is that the Alaska Highway System has decided that providing stateroom occupants on state ferries with Gideon Bibles--and only Gideon Bibles--is 'in the best interests of the state.' This forthright endorsement of the Christian faith by the State of Alaska is unconstitutional under any conceivable interpretation of the Establishment Clause."

Added Kassel: "The State of Alaska has no business promoting religious beliefs." No response to Kassel's March letter has been received from the Governor's office to date.

Gov. Tony Knowles can be reached at State of Alaska, Post Office Box 110001, Juneau AK 99811.

Published in Back Issues
%753 %America/Chicago, %2013

Governor Fob James Sues Alabama Chapter

n an almost unprecedented development, Alabama Gov. Fob James and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are filing a strange countersuit against the plaintiffs of a lawsuit against a county judge who leads prayers and posts the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.

The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU in March against Etowah County Judge Roy. S. Moore, is brought on behalf of the Foundation's chapter, the Alabama Freethought Association, and three Alabama citizens, Foundation member Gloria Hersheiser, and Barbara and Herb Stappenbeck.

The countersuit was expected to be filed in early May, and names not just the plaintiffs and Alabama Freethought Association, but the ACLU. The governor and attorney general were expected to file the lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court, seeking a judge to declare it is constitutional for judges to use religion as they like in their own courtrooms.

This is only the latest development in the groundswell of religious hysteria that has greeted the suit against the praying judge.

Five hundred Christians rallied outside the Etowah County Courthouse on April 10 to show their support for Judge Moore, a Republican Baptist who holds regular prayers in his courtroom and displays his own wood carving of the Ten Commandments.

Moore was appointed in 1992 by former Gov. Guy Hunt, a Primitive Baptist minister who was forced from office amidst various ethics and financial scandals. Current Gov. Fob James has extended the support of the state, hiring a Birmingham attorney to represent the judge.

State legislators also have started a defense fund led by state Sen. Gerald Dial, a Democrat. The new chair of the House budget committee announced he will post a brass plaque of the Ten Commandments in his committee's meeting room. "It's the foundation of western civilization as far as I'm concerned," opined Rep. Bill Fuller, a Democrat. He will also display framed scripture from the book of Joshua.

Sen. Albert Lipscomb, R-Magnolia Springs, claimed to the Associated Press that the Ten Commandments are posted in the U.S. Supreme Court. Foundation president Anne Gaylor investigated this false claim. Jane Yarborough, visitor programs coordinator of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote back to confirm that it is not true: "The text of the Ten Commandments does not appear in any of the friezes."

Following a memo last year advising judges against courtroom prayers by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sonny Hornsby, many judges quit such prayers. But Moore continues to invite a visiting minister to pray before the monthly empanelment of potential jurors. He also leads regular prayers in his courtroom. Before jury selection in a court case on April 10, the judge invited Rev. Maurice Wright, pastor of United Christian Church in Gadsden, to lead a courtroom prayer in front of about 100 potential jurors.

Although Moore contends that his courtroom prayers are voluntary, Martin McCaffery of the ACLU said: "There's nothing voluntary about it if you're subpoenaed to court or have to testify before the court or have to serve on the jury."

According to the Birmingham Post-Herald, Christian ministers at the rally called the ACLU "the enemy," insisted that the United States is a Christian nation, and led the crowd in waving flags, bibles and singing "God Bless America" and "Amazing Grace." Supporters claim to have garnered 12,000 signatures in support of Moore.

According to Associated Press, Moore told the crowd: "The separation of church and state was never intended to keep God out of government, but to keep the government out of our churches."

In a Nov. 20, 1994 interview with the Gadsden Times, Moore told the newspaper that the U.S. Constitution "is founded upon a strong belief in God."

ACLU attorney Joel Sogol estimates there are at least six to ten other Alabama judges praying in courtrooms in rural counties.

The Alabama Freethought Association is headed by Roger and Pat Cleveland, Foundation board members, who are hosts and caretakers of Lake Hypatia Freethought Hall and campgrounds.

Published in Back Issues

Federal taxes should not be subsidizing a $28,797 study of "intercessory prayer," the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote Secretary Donna Shalala, Department of Health and Human Services. To underscore its objections, the Foundation sent Shalala a purple-and-lavendar bumpersticker reading "Nothing Fails Like Prayer."

The grant was awarded to Scott R. Walker, M.D., to "test the hypothesis that intercessory prayers . . . can have a significant impact on the recovery of substance abusers." Walker is associated with the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque. The grant was awarded by the Office of Alternative Medicine through the National Institute of Health for the years 1993-1995.

Walker's grant application says the project will consist of telling clients that "an outside group of individuals may or may not pray by first name for their recovery from substance abuse and problems associated with it."

The Foundation wrote Shalala:

"The National Institutes of Health have no business funding religious studies. Dr. Walker's project, predicated on the use of 'Prayer Teams' and 'randomized' prayer, cannot pass constitutional muster."

The Foundation asked Shalala to "take whatever actions necessary to ensure that 'intercessory prayer' or similar projects lacking secular merit will not receive future public funding or support through your Department or its divisions."

"Think of the vaccines $28,797 might have paid for--the useful, tangible social gains citizens deserve for this outlay of taxes," commented Foundation spokesperson Annie Laurie Gaylor.

"Look at the absurdity of this so-called study. Does Dr. Walker really imagine that the deity in question, if it exists, would know which drug abusers are being prayed for by first-name only, in a world of more than 5 billion people? This is sheer superstition, not science, and an insult to taxpayers."

The Foundation originally sought information on the grant last fall from the Office of Alternative Medicine but had to invoke the Freedom of Information Act before receiving the public information requested. The Office provided no follow-up from Scott and did not know when his official report for the study would be finished.

Published in Back Issues

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.