Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 6 August 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Meet an irrepressible member

Name: Marle Brandt. Where I live: Sequim, Wash. Where and when I was born: July 6,
1936, in northeastern Montana. I grew up on a ranch in the boonies about 15 miles north of the tiny town of Nashua. We had running water in the house if the person on the pail handle felt like running between the well and the house. We got electricity and indoor plumbing when I was a sophomore. Phone lines were strung when I was a freshman at university.
Family: I have three grown-up kids. I’m very proud of them and feel they turned out just fine considering they were raised by an atheist mother who didn’t teach them their morals according to some nasty book of fiction. I enjoy them and their spouses whenever we can get together.
Education: My mother taught me in the first grade. That was the only alternative to moving to “town.” By second grade, the neighborhood parents had convinced the school board to reopen the one-room country school. High school was a long bus trip into town.
I went to college for a few semesters of prelaw. When I worked as an IRS tax examiner, I took formal tax law training. I started working for the USDA Forest Service, and took procurement courses, including contracting for construction of roadsand facilities.
Occupation: I retired from the Forest Service as a contracting officer. Now I have found volunteering and playing can also be interesting. I joined the Master Gardeners and went back to education to learn a bit about botany, entomology and related subjects about plants and the things that attack them.
I have my own “survival of the fittest” garden (so many plants, so little space!). I joined the Friends of the Library and sort and sell donated books. I joined the local Light[house] Station Association and have gone out different times for a week at a time as a volunteer keeper.
How I got where I am today: By a long, circuitous trail, going where life took me. That may sound like I didn’t have any control. Not so. Even as a small child, I remember making choices and then working to make them a reality. Of course, when encountering a roadblock, if it’s too solid, one has to go around it. I never got a law degree, for instance, but I still worked in fields using law in some form.
Where I’m headed: I don’t know but hope I can continue to spend time with my kids, keep active, keep learning, travel to new places and revisit some old favorites.
Person in history I admire: All of the women like Alice Paul who worked so long and so hard for women’s suffrage. She was a rabble-rouser who gave the movement a needed boost at that time in history.
A quotation I like: “Failure is impossible,” (Susan B. Anthony), and “No gods, no masters,” (Margaret Sanger). I’ve had the latter as a bumper sticker on every car I’ve owned since it became available. Finally, from a supervisor many years ago, “Never get into a pissing match with a skunk.” That one has served me well!
A few of my favorite things: My kids, reading, playing bridge, Hawaii, walking or sitting by the Pacific Ocean, country music from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Marle Brandt in her guise as radical recycler.

These are not: Dishonesty, ostentation in any form, high heels (on anyone), electronic gizmos, (especially computers), fancy restaurants with snooty waiters, people that try to preach at me, irresponsible parents and pet owners.
Doubts about religion started: I don’t remember having any doubts, because I don’t remember having any religion. My mother was extremely religious until the end of her life at 103. I remember parroting “Now I lay me down to sleep,” but that only lasted until I began to realize what I was saying and that I didn’t like it.
One time my parents went to great lengths to drive me over a rough road to a Sunday school where a woman told a story about Noah’s ark. I was a polite child, so as I was leaving, I thanked her for the nice fairy tale. She said that was a true story. As a ranch kid, I knew there wouldn’t have been room to carry that much food for the animals in that little boat. Besides, the coyotes would eat the sheep. I was trying to enlighten her of those facts of life when she got upset and bad went to worse. When my parents came to pick me up, Mother asked me if I had a good time. I reminded her that she had taught me to never tell a lie and that woman told lies and I was never going back there. I didn’t. My father may or may not have been a believer. He was a very private person, and I never heard him say one way or another, but he didn’t approve of organized religion.
Why I’m a freethinker: There’s no other way to be. I began to delve into the bible at an early age to see where it said that I couldn’t do things because I was a girl. My two brothers were in their early teens when I arrived, so my parents had waited a long time for this sweet little girl, which I wasn’t.
As I grew older, I intended to learn to drive a tractor, ride a horse, help at branding time, etc. My parents had other ideas. My father just laid down an edict, went about his business and left my poor mother be the enforcer. She would get exasperated and snap “because the bible says that girls can’t!” I decided to find out for myself, and found that the bible seemed to put females pretty far down in the pecking order.
I don’t think my father knew what to do with this weird girl child. He put roadblocks in my way, but if I was determined enough to get through them, he allowed it. I guess that made me a strong person.
Ways I promote freethought: I never made a secret of being an atheist. People need to realize that atheists are normal people, and knowing they are living next to or working next to or volunteering next to one can help that realization along.
My FFRF bumper stickers are a great conversation starter. People ask about them or comment one way or another and that’s a great opportunity to give a brief rundown of freethinking and keeping the various religions out of politics.

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