Will there still be a need for the Freethinker in years to come?

Will there still be a need for the Freethinker in years to come? January 1, 2016

As the first day of  2016 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have emailed me and sent messages via social media and the Freethinker site wishing me all the best for the New Year.
It’s nice to know that, as I enter my 18th year as editor of the Freethinker, with both my sanity and sense of humour still intact, I have the support of so many.
This gives me the strength and determination I need to keep on carrying on, with my eyes on the prize of entering the history books as the journal’s longest serving editor.

But to do that I would need to beat Chapman Cohen‘s record of 36 years, which means doing this job until I’m 87. Foote, above, edited the publication he founded in 1881 until 1915.
Ah, but will there still be a need for the Freethinker in 2034?
Sadly, yes – and for decades after that. Religion will continue to destroy lives – young lives in particular, and often literally, for the foreseeable future.
Egypt Moneeck Robinson and her dead son
Egypt Moneeck Robinson and her dead son
Most recent example: A Florida woman named Egypt Moneeck Robinson, 27, has been arrested for killing her young son, Ariel Juan Acevedo, 3, and stuffing his body in a suitcase. Her alleged motive was  to “save” him from a Biblical flood.
The people who plant idiotic ideas in the minds of the gullible will continue manipulating fools.
Most recent example: Young Earth creationism evangelist Kent Hovind, above, claimed this week that that God had purposefully put contradictions in the Bible to “weed out” non-believers.
In a YouTube video posted on Monday, the Christian fundamentalist responded to a follower who was troubled by a contradiction in the book of Acts.
Hovind had this explanation, if one could call it such:

If I was God I would write the book in such a way that those who don’t want to believe in me anyway would think they found something. ‘Aha, here’s why I don’t believe.’
And then they could go on with their own life because they don’t want to believe God anyway. I would put things in there that would appear without digging to be contradictions. I don’t think that’s deceptive, I think that’s wise for the Heavenly Father to weed out those who are really serious.

And the people who make shed-loads of money by convincing schlemiels that God wants his ambassadors on Earth to live high on the hog will still find millions willing to fund their lifestyles.
Most recent example: Two “prosperity gospel” evangelists Kenneth Copeland, above left, and Jesse Duplantis appeared in a video to explain why they need private jets to do the Lord’s work.
Copeland said it simply wouldn’t do for him to share an aircraft in this “dope-filled world” with “a bunch of demons” – EasyJet? – and Duplantis insisted that he needed the privacy of his own wings in order to converse with the Almighty, who apparently wants him to have more than one jet.
Duplantis claimed God spoke to him about his one private jet and said just having the one is letting his “faith stagnate.” He described a casual chat he had with God while flying home on his jet.

As I was going home, the lord, real quickly, he said, ‘Jesse, do you like your plane?’ I thought, that’s an odd statement. I said, ‘Well certainly lord. He said, ‘Do you really like it?’ And I thought, ‘Well yes, lord.’ And he said, ‘So that’s it? You gonna let your faith stagnate?’

And the people who are convinced that faith is the is the very foundation of morality will continue to to defend child abusers operating under the mantle of religious rectitude.
Most recent example: It’s just been revealed that former high court judge Anthony Lloyd wrote that Peter Ball, above, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester,  who was sentenced to 32 months in prison in October 2015 after pleading guilty to abusing 18 vulnerable young men between 1977 and 1992, was:

The most saintly man I have ever met … if there is a latter day St Francis, then Peter Ball is him.

Hat tips: Trevor Blake (child murder report), Robert Stovold (Hovind report) and BarrieJohn (Bishop Ball)

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  • ZombieHunter

    For as long as there are schools in the UK segregated by religion, for as long as there are maniacs willing to strap bombs to themselves over a cartoon, for as long as the catholic church covers up the abuse of children by priests and nuns and the imprisonment of young unmarried mothers in laundries and for as long as religious nuts (the pope and the dalai lama) deny that condoms help prevent AIDS there will be a need for the freethinker

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  • L.Long

    Are there still people under the age of 30 that are so stupidly delusional that they believe the words printed in hate-filled bigoted books o’BS???? Yes! Than we still have to keep fighting the good fight. and I see NO improvement in overall intelligence in the near future unless we are lucky enough to have a couple of raptures occur. I can’t wait for thousands of empty piles of clothes on the streets.

  • Angela_K

    The mainstream media still gives religion an easy time and is often complicit in religious promotion – especially the BBC. In the UK, we have newspapers such as the Express, Telegraph and Mail all of whom repeat the lie that we are a “Christian country”although I’m encouraged to see the comments section in these papers many who attack religion.
    As has been mentioned above, religion needs to be pushed to place where it can no longer interfere with people’s lives; starting with the removal of religious schools, the removal of the “Lords spiritual” from the House of Lords and proper separation of church and state. Also, religion should no longer have its protected status; everyone should be free to criticise without fear.
    My fear is that currently demographics are against us with the more extreme religious cults over-breeding and then indoctrinating even greater numbers.

  • AgentCormac

    Sadly I agree that The Freethinker will be needed for a long time to come. However, I would miss it very much indeed if this site no longer existed. Even the occasional lunatic posts of ‘freinds’ such as Bob ‘Potty’ Hutton are a source of entertainment. Long may the FT continue!

  • barriejohn

    Kent Hovind’s views are nothing new. I well remember, upon first being told that “God put fossils in the ground to test our faith”, that someone was pulling my leg – which in a way they were, I suppose. Well respected scholars have argued for years that the “apparent contradictions” in the gospels are proof of their authenticity because no intelligent person (please don’t laugh) would include them if they were not true.
    It is unlikely that fraudsters would bother to write multiple accounts of the same event.
    If at all fraudsters wrote multiple accounts, they would be particular to make sure that there are no appearances of any contradiction because they would be desperate to convince people that what they are writing is true.

    This is a very seductive argument until you realize that the vast majority of atheists are NOT claiming that the gospel writers wrote completely fictitious books, a la L Ron Hubbard, with the deliberate aim of deceiving millions. We realize that they were sincere but gullible people who believed that Jesus was the “Son of God”, and compiled as much material as they possibly could, from as many sources as they possibly could, to reinforce that argument. Hence we have a “Feeding of the Five Thousand” on one page of the gospels, with an almost identical “Feeding of the Four Thousand” following close on its heels. Any sensible person can see that these are different versions of the same story, but if someone had come along with a “Feeding of the Eight Thousand” variant, you can be sure that that would have been included as further proof as well.

  • Bill

    Yes … for as long as there are people who say things like this…
    “Everything that wasn’t invented by God is invented by an engineer,” HRH Prince Philip certainly has great experience in setting the framework for a conversation.
    The person saying it is in position of influence.
    The people they are saying it to should know much better.
    The BBC transmit it to a global audience.
    I am an engineer who has spend 40 years working for a major global company so you might think I should be pleased for this recognition of profession. But I am afforted by it. Its wrong at every level.
    Engineers solve problems … very difficult problems … working within strict bugets and strict legislation. But to say its all down to Engineers and god is wrong in every way. Physicists, Chemists, Biologists, Botanists find out what is going on and make discoveries and inventions. Entrepreneurs, Project Managers and Financiers establish the business environment for the Engineers to actually make the stuff. Rockets, Planes, Dams, Chemical Plants, Electron-microscopes, Medical Diagnostic Equipment, Microelectronics, Medicines … you name it … Engineers delivered it. Thats it. No god. Anywhere. Battalions of smart hard working motivated caring people improving the world … against which the fanatical fundamentalist factions endlessly struggle to retard and smash.

  • Bill
  • Eric T

    In saying that “Everything that wasn’t invented by God is invented by an engineer,” was not HRH Prince Philip perhaps thinking of his God’s responsibility for natural disasters and diseases?
    And hereditary monarchies, of course.

  • John

    In terms of what the FT site offers, yours is one of the few which still enables communication between members and supporters.
    The BHA does not provide this facility. Neither, anymore, does the NSS.
    The one drawback to this FT site is that there is no automatic notification mechanism to inform contributors that other posts have been made after their earlier posts have been made.
    I believe WordPress offer this facility, which you may want to check out?

  • Tony A

    I “religiously” kept copies of the Freethinker in my attic for 35 years until the rats got their teeth into them. Not very different from the other vermin that hate the sound of reason. So please keep the FT coming until one fine day mankind will cast off its primitive superstitions. I can dream of course…

  • HenkM

    When religion has the same position in the world as atheism has now, FT will be superfluous. I am afraid that s still some decades away. It ll be wishfullthinking that religion will disappear alltogether, but people are still free to believe what they want. As long as they do not interfere with other people’s lives.

  • Vanity Unfair

    Just reading the Freethinker often drives me to sorrow and even to rail volubly at the stupidity and arrogance of the religious society that surrounds me. I know that there are many, probably a majority of, reasonable and honourable people in religion but I am sure they would be just as reasonable and honourable without it and possibly have more time to practise their reason and honour. Religion has become the default setting for society over generations and is only now showing signs of succumbing to the advance of non-religious influence. That is likely why reading the Freethinker makes me so angry sometimes. I shudder to think what compiling and editing it does to Barry.
    However, to the point of this message: Religion, and especially in its more extreme forms is founded on a deep sense of irony. True, this is shared with other social phenomena; I would definitely include politics with it but this site is not primarily about politics. This is manifest in the report above but let me give a few examples. In other words: try to stop me if you dare. Not you, Barry: we all know you can.
    The foundation of educational establishments with the aim of denying education to their students: this is done by restricting the curriculum to exclude subjects that do not meet with the approval of the controlling religion. If a subject is forced on the teachers it is presented as not true but required for the examinations.
    Using modern technologies to impose a pre-industrial society upon a population: this is manifested in various ways. In a military situation, modern weapons are used in preference to those of the era of the founders of the religion or society. Obviously, it would not succeed otherwise.
    Similarly, modern communication technologies are used to spread the good news. It is more efficient and, on a per capita basis, cheaper. It does not matter that your founder, in an Iron Age society, could not even dream of modern electronics. After all, even Einstein could not come to terms with quantum mechanics.
    The misuse of philosophical tools to hide truth (philosophy: Greek: love of truth- hence the irony): this is particularly so in the case of using rhetoric to deny logic. So, a skilled speaker can construct a beautiful case on the unlikelihood of anthropogenic global warming and then misstate the actual science hoping that the non-scientist reading it will be convinced. Or, using a series of poetic references, it is possible to construct a world chronology that lasts only 6,000 years.
    Raising funds from the poor: the purpose of charity is to redistribute from rich to poor. Prosperity Gospellers make their money from a large number of small donations under the pretext that God will repay tenfold, or more, all contributions to the church. God has to arrange the funding of a new Gulfstream business somehow. (see above.) If the numbers are large enough there will be some examples of a donor winning a lottery or receiving a windfall of some kind that can be used as evidence for the truth of the claim. Some might even be invented.
    A career in the church was often taken by the younger sons of the aristocracy or gentry when funds would not stretch to the whole family. Once installed, and the choice of a vicar was often in the gift of a local landowner, the fortunate cleric could live off the tithes of the parishioners.
    Lawmakers using illegal means to further their religious aims: I’m sorry if this seems anti-US American. Hardly a week passes without some example of a US politician proposing legislation that contravenes the first amendment to the US Constitution. I might have mentioned before that I am a big fan of the Constitution, flawed as it is, and would like something similar in the UK.
    Not to be outdone, the SoS for Education, Nicky Morgan has said that she doesn’t like the English courts enforcing the law and intends to do something about it. http://freethinker.co.uk/2015/12/28/schools-must-teach-pupils-that-britain-is-a-christian-country/
    Hospitals refusing to allow preventive surgery: some seem to value their religion above the welfare of the patient. The RCC in the USA keeps on trying to enforce their discredited population policy (It can be summed up as, “The more, the holier.”) in their hospitals. And they do seem to have a lot of hospitals. In Ireland, patients and even corpses have been condemned to carry non-viable foetuses to term. Fortunately for some, there has been legal intervention where medical intervention was denied. In Northern Ireland, legal abortions are almost unknown so it is not just a RCC problem.
    I do seem to have gone on a lot more than I intended and, no, I do not feel better for it.

  • RussellW

    Yes, there will be a need for the ‘Freethinker’ into the future, probably the far future.
    Religious belief appears to be the result of those psychological processes that gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage. So unless we change the way our brains are wired, there will always be many believers, perhaps not in the more demented institutionalised religions, but in the occult, astrology, UFOs or other lunacies.
    I agree with HenkM, the best we can hope for,and work towards, is that those barking mad religiots leave the rest of us alone.

  • barriejohn

    Vanity Unfair: A couple of years back some poor guy wrote in to Private Eye and said that, although he had been a subscriber for years and heartily supported the magazine, he was reluctantly cancelling his subscription because it depressed him so much every two weeks to read about all the scammers and twisters who were still getting away with it and taking decent, honest people for a ride, with very little being done about it. I knew exactly what he meant, as I feel much the same myself, but we can’t throw in the towel; we have to support all those who endeavour to shine a light on the corruption and bullshitting that still goes on all over the globe today.

  • Canada Dave

    There will be religion long after all of us on this site are dead and gone.
    Religion will not die an quick demise. It as had a 6000 year head start on
    logic and reason not to mention the fact that it is so well funded by those that are easy prey for superstition and ritual.
    Fear is the constant companion of the huan race ….and fear drives those of non inquisitive mindset …into the waiting arms of the priestcraft to ease their angst.

  • Vanity Unfair

    To barriejohn:
    The towel is resolutely uninthrown. (My spell-checker does not like that but it is a servant, not a master.)
    I still intend to have fun with the Mormon and JW missionaries infesting this area, e.g.
    Mormons: If the gold plates only lasted until they had been translated why did they need to be in an unknown language?
    What really happened at Mountain Meadows?
    JWs: I’m surprised to see you since the World ended in 1975.
    If you cut your finger, are you allowed to put it into your mouth to use the antibiotic effect of saliva?
    It is heartening to hear the younger ones ask the older ones what the questions mean, evidence that their indoctrination has not been as thorough as it might be. I try to spread just a little doubt each time. Philosophers of the World, unite. You have nothing to lose but your certainty.
    And I meant Gulfstream business jet.

  • barriejohn

    Vanity Unfair: I have a good question for the Mormon “missionaries”. All the personal and place names in the Bible have a meaning, of significance to the religious (eg Joel means “JHWH is God”, whereas Elijah means, roughly, “God is JHWH”), so, as all the people in their wonderful Book of Mormon, being the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, are Jewish, all the names must be of Jewish origin, and have meanings as well. What, then, do Nephi, Ammaron, Shim, Antum, and so on mean? They sound suspiciously like words which were just made up because they resemble Biblical names, but that couldn’t possibly be the case, could it? “That’s an interesting question,” they say. “We’ll have to enquire about that.” No one has ever returned with an answer!

  • Peter Sykes

    Having just watched Bettany Hughes’s programme about Socrates (400BC), an early free thinker if ever there was one, I’am not sure if any progress has been made. (Technology not withstanding). So FT is still needed, big time, probably for a long time. And a heartfelt thank you to all involved, esp Barry Duke, of course.

  • Stonyground

    I know that the continued prevalence of religious lunacy and religious privilage can be depressing but I think that there is much reason for optimism. Religion may be declining more slowly than we would wish but declining it is, and with no sign of any kind of reversal. There was a news item recently about the terminal decline of church attendance in the UK and religion is in decline even in the US. I think that the internet is making a big difference, remember that it has only been around for about 25 years and these things take time.

  • Peter Sykes

    Judging by this research, not much progress for 2000 years! (An interesting read anyway.)

  • Rob Andrews

    Kinda’ going in the other direction here, but check out The Freethinker archives from the past. Especially the two links below. We certainly are making progress. I couldn’t inagine same-sex marriage 30-years ago.

  • Cali Ron

    I’ve been incognito for a few days and am just now catching up.
    Thank You Barry, for the last 18 years and hopefully, 18 more. I commend your efforts and although I wish there were no need for the FT I would sorely miss it if it were no more. May the new year bring you and all the FT regulars prosperity and happiness, as well as more articles of secularism’s success and less of religious insanity (not likely on the latter, but I’m hopeful).

  • Cali Ron

    @Vanity Unfair: “Lawmakers using illegal means to further their religious aims: I’m sorry if this seems anti-US American.” Worry not, it isn’t! Despite our claims of separation of church and state and the constitution the religious are constantly attempting to undermine that separation, sometimes succeeding. Frankly, anything short of complete separation is to me un-American and anti-humanity. We must always be wary because the wolves of religion are always at the door trying to undermine truth and logic and enslave the minds of the willing.
    Remember, when the fight seems lost, the hill to steep to climb or problems insurmountable you always have allies willing to support and assist you here at FT and with freethinkers all over the world.

  • dennis

    Mr. Barry Duke
    I expect to be cognizant for about 20 more years. I selfishly demand you continue on as editor till that time frame. you work hard for the atheist community. we get irritated, laugh, cuss and cry about these stories you give us but they are important and dissemination is key. I spent years reading history, science, religious and psychology books but these little articles and the web links give all those books a continuum for me.
    @Vanity Unfair, yes and yes and yes