"Lilith," pictured with her maker Norman B. LeClair, now graces the office library of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis.
"Lilith, as you know, was Adam's first wife," Norm notes. "But she was strong and independent with a mind of her own. Legend tells us that 'she refused to lie under him and obey his commands.' So Adam complained to God who in turn made him a new and more compliant female named Eve.
"To punish Lilith for her willfulness, God turned her into the first female devil, and the mother of all illegitimate children. She was condemned to spend her nights hovering above the bedchamber waiting for the male to spill his seed from which she created demons and all the illegitimate children of the world. As the Church Lady would probably say, 'Now isn't that special?' "
Lilith was carved from a 3-foot high laminated piece of red oak. Norm adds: "This piece is a good example of why abstract sculpturing is so much fun. You can really push the envelope. Lilith has no hands, no feet, no face and only one breast, but because the lines are smooth and free-flowing, the female form is easily discernible. I gave her a sassy ponytail but it can only be seen if viewed from the side."
A Foundation Life Member from Florida, Norm is retired from the military. As an artist he has created many "thinking pieces" of art, too. One such sculpture which he also recently donated to the Foundation has the Pogo-derived title: "We have met the enemy and he is us." (See June/June 1998 article.) It depicts a human skull staring at three reflections: a skull respectively overlaid with a Star of David, a cross and crescent and star.
Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Hassanain Rajabali of the Tawheed Institute debated the existence of "God" at the Islamic Center in Queens, New York, on Sunday, January 5. The overflow crowd of 400+ attendees included 20-30 freethinkers, mostly Foundation members, some pictured at right (in front of the star with "Allah" in Arabic). The debate was hosted entirely by the Tawheed ("unity") Institute.
Originally the topic, "Does God Exist?", was changed by the Islamic organizers to "Does God Not Exist?" due to "sensitivity issues," they said. This had the effect of giving Dan the affirmative, and the first opening statement. The debate dealt with the "god of the gaps," appearance of design, falsifiability, "necessary existence," incompatible properties in the traditional "God," the problem of evil, and morality, followed by a lively period of astute questions from the audience.
Hassanain and the Muslim organizers were gracious, generous, and very capable, Dan says. They had announced that in light of recent events, especially the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they wanted to show the world that they are not irrational, violent people with devil horns. To judge whether Dan or Hassanain had the shorter horns, the event can be viewed online at http://www.madressa.org.
A transcription is available at: http://www.madressa.org/debate_transcript.htm
To obtain a video or DVD of the Barker-Rajabali debate, send $20.00 (ppd.) to "Tawheed Institute," Attn: Murtaza Rajabali, Crosswest Office Center, 399 Knollwood Road, Suite 217, White Plains, NY 10603.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation's gilt "Winter Solstice" sign, traditionally placed during the month of December at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, lasted only one week before being defaced on Dec. 15.
It apparently was sprayed with some type of corrosive substance.
Anne Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation announced a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for defacing the freethought message. No one has come forward with information to date.
The sign, which was marred but legible, remained at the Capitol through Dec. 31. It reads:
"At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail.
"There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
"There is only our natural world.
"Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
The back of the sign reads: "State/Church: Keep Them Separate," and carries a little taped-on caveat, advising believers "Thou shalt not steal."
The Foundation had asked the Capitol police for special attention in protecting the sign, for which the Foundation has a permit. Last year, the inserts were stolen and never recovered. The Capitol police have surveillance at all exits.
"It seems to be a reflection of a change for the worse in our society--increased intolerance and right-wing aggression," commented Gaylor. "Our small token Winter Solstice sign was not tampered with for the first five years we erected it, then was stolen in 2001, and mutilated this past season.
"There was a week-long 'interfaith' display dominating the rotunda, there was the annual nativity pageant with angels everywhere taking over the Capitol for most of one weekend, daily Christmas hymn-singing, and the government-sponsored 'tree lighting ceremony' with Christian overtones," she pointed out.
"A menorah with godly text by it is placed every year. A right-wing group puts a cheap-looking poster up at the Capitol, that has never been vandalized, calling all atheists fools and promoting 'our Lord Jesus Christ.'
"There ought to be room at the State Capitol for the views of atheists and agnostics, too.
"Although we do not believe religion or irreligion should be represented at the seat of state government, as long as religion is promoted there in December, our sign will be there, too," Gaylor added.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is protesting "faith-based pork," and the public funding of "faith-based boondoggles" through the White House Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
At the most recent conference held in Denver on January 13, free lunches were provided for the religious participants interested in applying for funding, who numbered about 1,000.
In a revealing slip of the tongue reported by the Denver Post, Jim Towey, director of the White House Office, praised Pres. Bush at the event for creating a "level praying field" (he later said he meant "level playing field").
Attorney General John Ashcroft suspended all duties in order to attend the gathering and deliver a pep talk for religion at the public-sponsored event. To a chorus of "amens," Ashcroft told the religious participants:
"Out of fear, ignorance and occasional bigotry, faith-based groups have been prohibited from competing for federal funding on a level playing field with secular groups."
When asked how freedom of conscience would be protected at federally-funded religious programs, Ashcroft responded: "Any citizen who's offended . . . can leave the service."
The Foundation has asked the office of faith-based funding for full disclosure of its budget, and the cost of White House faith-based conferences. The Foundation also asked the office to cancel any future faith-based conferences.
"Not only are your office's schemes largely untested, but they are for the most part being carried out without the approval or oversight of the U.S. Congress," the Foundation wrote Towey.
The Foundation has won the only explicit challenge of direct faith-based funding to be fully adjudicated, challenging federal funding of Faith Works in Milwaukee. Freedom From Religion Foundation v. McCallum & Faith Works, 00-C-617-C, Jan. 7, 2002.
The federal judge held up Faith Works as the type of public-funded indoctrination it is illegal to fund, although as a candidate Pres. Bush singled out Faith Works as a prototype of faith-based funding.
Bush sidestepped Congress, where his "faith-based initiatives" has been stalled, by issuing a Dec. 12 executive order, "Equal Protection of the Laws for Faith-based and Community Organizations," mandating:
"No organization should be discriminated against on the basis of religion or religious belief in the administration or distribution of Federal financial assistance under social service programs."
Religious groups would be allowed to discriminate against job applicants on the basis of religion.
After he issued the order, Bush told a rally made up of clergy: "God loves you and I love you and you can count on us both!"
The order also would apparently allow institutions receiving Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
Critics such as U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., responded: "All Americans should find abhorrent a government policy that allows for a religious or racial litmus test when hiring with taxpayer money a person to serve soup. Cooking soup and giving it to the poor can be done equally well by persons of all religious beliefs."
The order encompasses the broad range of social service programs--child care, foster care, services to people with disabilities, transportation services, job training, information, referral and counseling services, meal preparation, health support services, literacy and mentoring, services relating to juvenile delinquency and crime prevention--including services relating to domestic violence, and housing assistance.
It applies to the office of the Attorney General, and Secretaries of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor, and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development.
In the usual paradoxical language of "faith-based initiatives," the order forbids the government from meddling with the character of proselytizing groups, while saying proselytizers must respect the dictates of the Establishment Clause.
The order states: Groups "that engage in inherently religious activities . . . must offer those services separately in time or location" and that participation must be "voluntary."
It then mandates that "faith-based organizations" shall be eligible for full social service funding "without impairing their independence, autonomy, expression, or religious character," and may "carry out its mission, including the definition, development, practice, and expression of its religious beliefs, provided that it does not use direct Federal financial assistance to support any inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization."
No religious groups need to remove or alter "religious art, icons, scriptures, or other symbols." Each may "retain religious terms in its organization's name, select its board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its organization's mission statements and other chartering or governing documents."
Commented Anne Gaylor, Foundation president: "This executive order amounts to an endorsement of public-funded religious indoctrination."
The latest federal grants meted out under Bush's "faith-based initiative" scheme involved $2.2 million to "promote marriage" given in early January to 12 states and a variety of groups, including religious organizations, by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
Another disturbing development was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's public statement on January 12 that the courts have gone overboard in keeping "God" out of government.
Speaking at a Knights of Columbus parade in Fredericksburg, Va., where his son Paul is a priest, the Catholic judge criticized the 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit for ruling unconstitutional the addition of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Scalia said such changes should be wrought legislatively, not by a court. He averred that the framers of the Constitution did not intend for God to be stripped from public life:
"That is contrary to our whole tradition," he said, citing "In God We Trust" on currency, presidential Thanksgiving proclamations, Congressional chaplains and tax exemption for churches.
Scalia sang "God Bless America" with the crowd of several hundred people.
I for one am glad that the Pledge of Allegiance has been thrown into the ash heap by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If I wanted to join a secret society replete with oaths, clubby handshakes and ceremony, I'd seek out the Shriners, Elks or some other club. I am an American. That means I cherish the ability to chart my own course.
Truth be told, we are not "one nation under God," even though there is a strong subculture that wishes it were so. I recall once being scorned by then judge William Sullivan, now Chief Justice Sullivan of the Connecticut Supreme Court. In an off-the-record sigh provoked by the obduracy of an adversary, I muttered "Jesus Christ." The judge glared. "Don't take the name of the Lord in vain in my court," he hissed with the charm of Torquemada. I reminded the judge then, as I do now, that he is not my lord, but merely an itinerant Jewish preacher of historic interest.
I have long been offended by the Pledge of Allegiance for the simple fact that I do not know what it means. I went to school to learn, and came home with my head spinning. Where is God? What does it mean to be under Him, or Her, or Whatever the case may be? And why should the state require us to recite this quasi-prayer before beginning a day devoted, we hope, to learning of what the world consists?
No sooner had the 9th Circuit ruled than the Senate leaped into action, expressing by a vote of 99-0 its disagreement with the ruling. And religious zealots from Jerry Falwell on down the descending scale of rationality are promising bedlam until the ruling is reversed.
Millions of Americans are homeless. The Senate's response? Nothing.
Corporations and accountants rape investors. The Senate's response? Nothing.
Our air is unclean, our waters clogged with pollutants. The Senate's response? Not much.
We are hated in much of the world for faults we care not to examine. The Senate's response? Nothing.
But attack a trope, and, well, the heavens disgorge themselves with cheap sentiment. Why?
Because it is easy. Talking about God has the mysterious quality of sounding like sound and fury. In fact, such speech often signifies nothing. I have never once read a book, heard a debate or faced a decision in which the figure of God played any decisive role. Fanatics kill in God's name; others defend in God's name. God, in the meantime, keeps His preferences hidden from view.
Of course, Congress will pass a law reaffirming that God belongs in the pledge. And of course, Justice Antonin Scalia will write a scathing opinion, most likely in the majority this time, about the centrality of God in our lives. And of course, millions of Americans will be relieved when this little three-letter word is once again given pride of place in our schools.
And the politics of selecting federal judges will get even goofier. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mo., has already announced that the 9th Circuit decision "highlights what the fight over federal judges is all about." Really, Senator. I guess anything sells in the Bible Belt; go ahead and pray while Rome burns. It beats fiddling.
How different are we than the mullahs whom we now seek to bomb? "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet," they say. And we are one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all. Liberty and justice that is, for all those content to swim in the mainstream. I find it offensive to be required, or to have my children be required, to pay homage to invisible gods, phantoms and deities.
The "In God We Trust" poster at the Capitol Station Post Office, Madison, Wis., gets a "thumbs down" from Freethought Today editor Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Learning over the Internet that "In God We Trust" posters were ordered up in every post office in the nation in late November, I sought to confirm this rumor with the United States Postal Service. I phoned its (dreaded) national switchboard and listened to umpteen menu options before making my request to a live person.
I was on hold for at least ten minutes before the voice returned and confirmed that there was indeed an undated "internal memo" ordering the posting of "In God We Trust" in every post office lobby.
The postal employee reluctantly read me the memo, which cited a House of Representative voice vote reaffirming the national motto, and another resolution reaffirming the religious Pledge of Allegiance and religious national motto that was signed into law by Bush in November.
When I asked if the postal employee could fax me this memo, as I needed verification before reporting it, I was put on hold for another ten minutes. A woman finally came on the line to turn down this request. When I naturally enough suggested she put it in the mail, she told me (I am not making this up): "The United States Postal Service does not have the capacity to mail you anything."
She did, however, provide me with the name and local number of the PR woman at the Madison Post Office, a dyed-in-the-wool bureaucrat. Ever-helpful Pam assured me that it would be a "long wait" before I would see that memo.
Two days later, when I phoned back again explaining I was on deadline, she told me she had not attended to my request because I had not put it in writing. (She had not told me to.) She gleefully informed me she would then have seven business days to acknowledge my written request (which I duly faxed immediately).
Our representative's office sympathetically promised to try to get the memo for me in a hurry, but apparently ran into the same bureaucratic stumbling block. There is still no paper memo, and it has been a week as I write this.
Meanwhile, Lynn, my assistant editor, accompanied me on an exciting foray to our local post office, to look for the "In God We Trust" poster. We found a blow-up of an antique stamp of the Statue of Liberty, in which, fortunately, the word LIBERTY is more prominent than the religious motto. The postal decree nevertheless sets atrocious legal precedent.
As we snapped a few photos for Freethought Today, a postal employee informed us it was "illegal" to take a photograph in a post office! We took three photos anyway, sure she was "going postal," and that we really weren't playing out a scene from "1984." This charming postal employee then threatened to confiscate Lynn's digital camera. As I was leaving, she kindly advised me:
"Where your rights stop, another person's rights start."
When I told the representative about this unbelievable comment, he wryly said he hadn't realized Americans possessed "rights that stopped." (I was glad to hear it.) He obligingly looked up the federal regulations--media are specifically permitted to take photographs in public areas of post offices, I was happy to learn.
S. 2690 passed the U.S. Senate 99-0 on June 27, only one day after Michael Newdow's 9th Circuit victory against "under God" in the Pledge was released. On Oct. 8, it passed the U.S. House 401--5 (opposed only by the indomitable Barney Frank, Robert Scott, Michael Honda, Jim McDermott, and Pete Stark). Good ole George II signed it on Nov. 13, making it Public Law No. 107-293.
Every student of English poetry has read the metaphysical poet John Donne's "Death Be Not Proud." Donne (1573-1631) concludes the poem with the line "Death, thou shalt die," assuming that his Christian soul will live on after death.
To freethinkers it may seem that Donne is setting up a cardboard villain (Death) that he can easily knock down. He reminds us of a boy walking through a cemetery at midnight trying to ward off his fear, trying to substitute superstition for the facts of nature.
Death Be Not Proud
by John Donne
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so; For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones and soul's delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell; And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
If a freethinking contemporary of Donne had been allowed to express his or her views, perhaps the following lines might have been published.
by Tom Schlicht
John hopes his ogre Death to overthrow (As if death were a phantom not hard fact). The carcass and the corpse remain intact Not long. Then longing home to earth they go. The decomposing crow grows shoots in spring. Do nature's cycles need a creed to drive Them? John's own coil of clay will not survive As saint but as snake or other earthsprung thing. Nor do the dead across the Styx embark To Hades or Hereafter. Within his mind He stalks a man of straw but fails to find His Mother as he whistles in the dark. Can he not see that life and death are one? With his conceits I hope to see John done.
Roger Cleveland and I were recently in the right place at the right time, the meeting of the Talladega County Commission. The USS Talladega Reunion Committee was asking the commission for $3,000 toward sidewalk construction for the USS Talladega Memorial that was to be erected on the Courthouse Square.
The USS Talladega was an attack transport ship that served during WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, receiving seven battle stars. The ship was named for our county, and a reunion for all former crewmembers was to be held in September.
Although Roger and I had rather honor peace than war, our attention was captured by the proposed placement of the words, "Before you leave this place please pray for peace," on the reverse of the monument.
Both Roger and I contacted our county commissioners and the probate judge who happened to be on the Reunion Committee. We wrote letters and made phone calls to the aforementioned persons and requested a place on the agenda of the next commission meeting. We both voiced our opposition to any taxpayer money being spent to help fund the placement of a monument bearing a religious edict on government property. Roger assured the commission that it would cost Talladega County a lot more than $3,000 if the planned proposal were implemented.
As you can see, the reverse of the monument is a tabula rasa. It is a secular tribute to a secular cause. Government was kept free from religious encroachment. As Roger said, "Not this time!"
Greg Krauter (left) stands by the lovely freethought cenotaph honoring "The Founding Freethinkers," which was dedicated on Nov. 2 in front of his historic store in Comfort. Photo by Catherine Fahringer.
It was a chilly and rainy day but still over 100 people turned out for the Nov. 2 unveiling of the new German Freethinker Settlers monument in Comfort, Texas.
Although a five-year controversy preceded the dedication, the event went smoothly.
Originally, an impressively large, 32-ton limestone freethought monument had been placed in Comfort Park in 1998, with approval of the Chamber of Commerce and the proper authorities. The monument was later "kidnapped" in late 1999, following an outcry by some townspeople because part of the funding for the project had come from "atheists."
All present were pleased by the new eight-foot tall limestone monument, constructed by Karl H. Kuhn of Boerne, which was placed in front of the Ingenhuett Store on High Street in Comfort.
The ceremony brought together atheists and freethinkers, who sponsored and paid for the monument, and others who respect freedom and history.
There were attendees from local "Hill County," Kerrville, Austin, San Antonio, Abilene, Houston, and the Dallas area.
The German Freethinkers were a fiercely independent group of intellectuals who settled the Hill Country beginning in the 1840's. Their settlements were called the "Latin Colonies." They supported many progressive causes including abolition, women's suffrage, and secular schools. Most were decidedly unreligious.
Don Lawrence, president of Freethinkers Association of Central Texas during much of the time of the Comfort "Rock" controversy, introduced the speakers, most of whom were descendants of the Founding Freethinkers of the area. Don has been the master of ceremonies for several of the "atheist invasions" that have taken place in Comfort.
Two representatives of local government spoke first. Eddie John Vogt, soon to become Kendall County Judge, and descendant of original area settlers, was followed by Rusty Busby, president of the Chamber of Commerce, which had approved the original cenotaph. Mr. Busby is a newly-elected Kendall County Commissioner. Irene Meyer Scharf, a candidate for the Texas Board of Education, and Bebe Fenstermaker added an intimate note to the speeches with poetry and histories of stalwart women freethinker settlers. Ms. Fenstermaker's grandmother was instrumental in securing the vote for women.
The crowd was awed by the golden eagle put on display by the next speaker, John A. Karger, a descendant of original area settlers and Executive Director of a bird-of-prey conservancy. The eagle was seen as an appropriate symbol of the independence of mind of the freethought settlers.
At last, the cenotaph was unveiled by Ed Scharf, author of the booklet "Frontier Freethinkers in the Texas Hill Country." Ed, currently a candidate for Congress, instigated the original Freethinker Cenotaph project after attending the re-dedication of the Treue der Union monument several years ago. That monument recognizes those men who were massacred in the Battle of the Nueces. Ed realized that a monument was needed to keep the story of all the freethinking settlers alive. Many in current-day Comfort were unaware of the amazing story of the Founding Freethinkers, and how some were slaughtered for opposing slavery and the Confederacy.
Greg Krauter, the descendant of six of the original freethinker founders, made the closing remarks. Greg owns and operates the Ingenhuett Store where the cenotaph was placed, a landmark that has been in his family and in continuous operation since frontier times.
The lunch at the Armadillo on the Creek afterward, attended by more than 70, was one of good cheer and celebration.
This started when, sort of spur-of-the-moment, I stood up and said, "Nope, you're wrong." [laughter]
Really, I ticked off one guy twice in the same weekend and that's what started it off. I embarrassed him horribly and wouldn't shake his hand and told him he didn't deserve the respect of a handshake. So that's pretty much what started it and from there on, it just blew up.
His name is Glenn Schmidt, he's our district committee chairman, and he came out with the comments about how an atheist who found a wallet would just steal the money. He said that for an atheist to be in the Boy Scouts, they'd have to go around the rules and essentially lie, and that an atheist cannot be a good citizen.
That's when I stood up and said, "I never lied. My Eagle board knew I did not believe in God when they passed me and they commended me on my courage and bravery to say so, and they never asked me a question about it. If anybody wants to tell me that I'm not a good citizen, they can kiss my butt." Although I was thinking the other word, my sister assured me that's what I said. And then I walked out of the room and told him I wouldn't be part of that discrimination.
Main thing with me is, I didn't mind so much if they were against me, it's that I have other Scouts in my troop who deserve Eagle. It is ludicrous that someone can ask them if they believe in God, and that they would not pass their Eagle board because they don't. They deserve their Eagle far more than a lot of boys I've seen get it. So I'll stand up to that any time.
I've always been against discrimination of any sort. There's no point in it, really, to take one character aspect of a person and then base an entire opinion on that. It's ridiculous. A district executive told me that scouting would be less without me, "but it was the right thing to do." Now tell me, how is that the right thing to do? It's not a better society in any way.
I didn't really prepare much to say, so if any of you have any questions, I'd love to answer them.
Q: What's your feedback from the community, positive and negative?
Almost 100% positive. My troop supports me 100%. They may not agree with my opinions but they support me. The community, I've never got any threats or anything like that. I get about 30 letters of support to one letter of non-support, so it's been encouraging, really encouraging.
Q: Do the Scouts have any free use of public facilities?
Yeah. There's a Boy Scout building in a public park in my county. I actually meet at the Veterans Home, which is on federal government property. So there's a chaplain right there. Sea Scouts a couple of years ago got whaling boats for a dollar, and, you know, I always thought they were a little bit more expensive than that, but I guess the government didn't care.
So yeah, they get tons of government support. So I don't see how they're getting past their federal charter on that one.
Q: Who was their sponsor for the organization?
A veterans' home chapel, but it's still a church. Unfortunately, the pastor of the church doesn't support me. He'll go with anything the Boy Scouts go for, but other than that, everybody else is for me.
Q: Why is superstitious belief so important to the Boy Scouts?
Another question is why is it so important for Boy Scouts of America to be religious when it is not important all over the world? I can't tell you. My group never supported religion. You learn religion at home with your family or the religious institution of your choice. You come to me, you learn how to camp, hike, bike, climb, wilderness survival. That's what I always teach. I don't teach religion.
Q: What about Girl Scouts?
They changed their policy and they're still as much of an organization as they were before. They didn't fall apart like Boy Scouts think they're going to.
Q: Do the Boy Scouts require that Scouts be "reverent"?
As it's defined now in the Scout handbook, yes. You get a handbook from 1938, no, it's a reverence toward your fellow Scouts, reverence toward your schoolwork, and it's used in the dictionary definition of the word, not the "You have to believe in God, you have to follow your religion." Oddly enough "respect others' opinions" is the other part of that requirement!
The current manual says "faith for God" or "belief in god," "practicing religious duties" and "respect for others' opinions."
Q: What about Explorer Scouts?
That's a tough one, because Explorer Boy Scouts don't necessarily have to believe in god, they don't have any discrimination. So they kind of bypass the whole government thing. Like my Explorer Search and Rescue Unit, we get funding from Department of Emergency Management. But I still don't agree with public funding of Explorer Scouts if they're going to be any part of Boy Scouts.
Q: How did you become an atheist?
I always had the question in my mind. It's just, religion doesn't make any sense. How can anybody do some legitimate research and learn and still believe? That's basically it, it doesn't make any sense, you can't scientifically prove that there is one god. People get thrown into the loonybin for believing in Santa Claus!
Q: What's your family's position?
My mom was raised Catholic, I believe, but she walked out of the Church when she was 11. Since then she believes in God, not necessarily organized religion. My dad is an atheist, which I didn't find out till after I'd come to my own conclusions. I was a little worried about that night. My dad's 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, I'm like, "Uh-oh." So, it's a very open family, they always encouraged us to find our own way, which we all did. One of my sisters is an atheist as well, the other one believes in spirituality more than an actual higher supreme being.
Q: Was your troop supportive?
I have never encouraged them not to believe in God, because it's not my place to encourage that, it's their family's. The only thing I've encouraged them to do is think for themselves. So our troop was very unreligiously oriented. I think we have two boys now who actually believe in God. The other 18, when this all came out, asked me, "What do we say if someone asks us?" I told them to say that it's none of their goddamn business.
Thank you, everybody.