FREETHINKERS NEW YORK
Freethinking-Activist-Nonbelieving New Yorkers (FANNY)
31 Jane Street (Box 10-D), New York, NY 10014
info@freethinkersny.org


Founder-Directors (1998)
        Dennis Middlebrooks, Warren Allen Smith

Chairpersons

Victor Acevedo, Janet Asimov, Robert Delford Brown, Dennis Middlebrooks, Warren Allen Smith, Eric Walther

Other Chairpersons

Sir Arthur C. Clarke (formerly a Chelsea Hotel resident; now a Sri Lankan; author of 2001 and 3001)

Albert Ellis, clinical psychologist and sexologist who is against MUSTurbation ('You must do this or that!") and absolutism

Mick Lambe, Mick Lambe, founder of PARIAH - People Against Racism In Aboriginal Homelands - Northern Territory - Australia

Taslima Nasrin, Bangladeshi physician-poet (who fled to Sweden because of a fatwa on her head); author of Shame and Enfance, au féminin (Paris);
        winner of the 2004 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence; nominated by Amnesty France for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Peace

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., novelist; author of Slaughterhouse Five, Hocus Pocus, Cat's Cradle

Deceased:

Sci-fi author Isaac Asimov; Encyclopedia of Philosophy editor Paul Edwards; painter Paul Cadmus ; M*A*S*H originator and one of "the Hollywood Ten" Ring Lardner Jr .;
business education professor
Herbert Tonne
; sculptor of "The Humanist" Anita Weschler; freethinker Irving Yablon


Membership is open to those who have completed an individual activist project and been approved by the founder-directors

Dues: None

Purpose: FANNY acts as liaison to humanistic groups that cater to the interests of fellow agnostics, atheists, secularists, humanists, philosophic naturalists, and freethinker


See Freethought Today - North America's major freethought newspaper:
             http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/



January 2005

28 Jan 2005

        THOMAS PAINE birthday party
            9 pm,  Marie's Crisis (59 Grove St. - #1 or #9 subways to Christopher St.)
            Margaret Downey and the Philadelphia freethinkers will join us.
            On 29 Jan 2005 Paine's birthday will be celebrated at the Paine Museum in New Rochelle.
                    Contact:  Margaret Downey <downey1@downey1.cnc.net>     

10 Jan 2005       

        FreethinkersNY sent the following message to attendees in Hyderabad, India, at their 14 to 15 January 2005
conference on "The Contemporary Situation in Secularism":

Greetings to fellow secularists from Dennis Middlebrooks and Warren Allen Smith, co-founders of Freethinkers, NY.

The 21st century has not begun the way we would have liked. Ideally, humans should be clearly enjoying progress as the
years pass.  Already in this new century, however,

•  with our own eyes we have seen from the windows of our office the religion-inspired destruction of the twin towers
at the World
Trade Center in Manhattan and resultant loss of the lives of several thousand children, women, and men
from all parts of the world;

 
• we are finding more worldwide religious infighting, more wars to protect the vested interests of absolutists and
monotheists, more
rather than less ignorance about  the scientific method of reasoning;
 
• former Communist countries are throbbing more with the sounds of the construction of mosques and places of
worship than with the
building of schoolrooms to learn about and experiment with science;
  
•  "house churches" are proliferating in China;
 
•  the world's largest church – the Hoida Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea -
boasts that 250,000 attend on Sundays;

 
•  Pentecostal groups that feature "speaking in tongues" have expanded in Central and South America to the point
that they
challenge the power of Catholicism's dominance;
 
•  and, on top of all the other adversities, we are finding religious fundamentalists and evangelicals continue to
misunderstand
Nature, continue to repeat unsupportable non-scientific views about droughts, floods, wildfires,
tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes,
earthquakes, and tsunamis. By taking advantage of people's ignorance, they
unfortunately are succeeding without fear
of being punished. Where anywhere on Earth has a child
successfully sued his parents for having inculcated her or his mind with superstitious unenlightenment!

The prospect of improving the human condition at times seems bleak here in the United States of America. President George W. Bush
has morning prayer meetings with his cabinet. Often called the Great Divider, President Bush has successively polarized the country
into red (pro-Bush) and blue (anti-Bush) states. Jesters have dubbed the red states as being "Jesusland." Cartoonists have drawn maps
showing the mostly northern blue states have joined Canada to become the United States of Canada. Pessimists could conclude that
such polarization will lead to a nation divided between (a) the millions of God-approved and (b) the remaining millions of others -
namely liquor-drinking liberals, anti-theocratic intellectuals, and non-believers who tolerate homosexuality, abortion, and novelist
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Optimists say the believers can have Alabama, Florida, and Texas so long as the rest of us can live free in California,
Massachusetts, and New York.  In short, let the potential theocrats go south and leave the north to the secularists. Meanwhile, the Blue
states pay more in taxes to the budding theocracy in the nation's capital whereas the parasitic Red states are net recipients of tax dollars.

 
American freethinkers do not find it necessary to choose one or the other. Any disinterested and pragmatic look at what is transpiring
leads to the view that the nation's economic picture favors the blue states, which easily choose the values of our French Revolution-inspired
Founding Fathers over the values of the Bible-centered religious right. Freethinkers are disturbed primarily because they have had to choose,
unfortunately, between two right-of-center political parties instead of having a third choice, one that would not have tolerated the majority
party's unilateral actions in Iraq and elsewhere.

 
Wherever we live in this diverse Earth of ours, we secularists must continue fighting for the major humanistic document of our time,
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the United Nations back in 1948.

 
Dennis Middlebrooks
Warren Allen Smith
Freethinkers NY
http://freethinkersny.org

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

December 2004

PAUL EDWARDS (1923 – 2004)


            Dr. Paul Edwards died at his expansive Apthorpe Apartments, 79th Street and Broadway, Manhattan, some time between 8:30 pm on Wednesday (8 Dec 2004) and Thursday (9 Dec 2004), according to an e-mail from his aide Alek Shlahet to Tim Madigan.

        On Friday, his apartment was sealed by the police. The body was removed to the coroner's office, it is to be cremated, and eventually friends will be invited to a ceremony in which the cremains will be thrown, as was his wish, into the Hudson River.

        Tim Madigan and I upon several occasions visited Paul, and during the Thanksgiving weekend Tim had a long conversation with him, one that always ended with a scrambled eggs meal at a diner within walking distance. Paul had complained about his health for decades, and during the last year or so his teeth gave him big problems.

        Alek has assured us that he has complete files on Paul's "almost complete" (Paul's words) final book, one probably to be titled God and the Philosophers.

    Unfortunately, photographs have always been difficult to find because Paul disliked being photographed. Shown above is a photo I took surreptitiously one day several years ago in his Intro to Philosophy course at New School University.

        Paul was a proud member of FANNY.

       Read the 16 Dec 2004  New York Times obituary, which was written partly with Tim Madigan's suggestions. The Times requires free registration to see their articles.  However, click here for a pdf version.

Taslima Nasrin, our honorary member who has won the $100,000 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize, is back in Kolkata, West Bengal, where she will stay for several months. She is available to speak in the States in July to September 2005, when she expects to visit a FANNY meeting again.  On December 11th when she left her address book in an Indian reporter's car, the reporter contacted FANNY's e-mail, we notified Taslima, and she received her address back within a few hours on December 12th. How's that for intercontinental service!


December 2004

          In the weekend section of the Friday, 12/24/2004 Wall Street Journal, author
Andrew Klavan chides philosopher and long-time atheist Antony Flew for his
tentative embrace of a deistic God and his continued rejection of an afterlife, and
boasts of his own recent conversion from disbelief to the Episcopal Church. 
        Klavan goes on to reject scientific arguments against God and alleges that
"atheism proceeds without respect for the human experience of God's presence."
Klavan cites as proof of his Episcopal Sky Father such purely subjective examples
as a recovering drunk whose "diseased will" God has replaced and a "despairing
soul" in a Salvation Army shelter whom God has "taught his worth." Klavan
then declares "I refuse to acknowledge that there is a legitimate and meaningful
concept of there being no God. The burden of proof is all on atheism."
         
That such rot can be considered worthy of publication in one of the nation's
leading dailies is a sad commentary on the ascendancy of supernaturalism and
irrationalism in the USA today.  This deluded Episcopalian can be reached at
http://www.AndrewKlavan.com.

Dennis Middlebrooks

       On 25 Dec 2004, Klavan received the following from Dennis:


From: <MBRAHMS26@aol.com>
Date: Sat, 25 Dec 2004 13:05:52 EST
To: <andrew@andrewklavan.com%20>
Subject: Wall Street Journal Column on Atheism

Dear Mr. Klavan:

As a committed secular humanist (I am the former president of the Secular
Humanist Society of New York and I am listed in Warren A Smith's Who's Who in
Hell), I found your Wall Street Journal column on atheism unconvincing.  Assuming
that you "experienced" God in some way (and the examples you cite are purely
subjective), how then do you arrive at the belief that the Episcopal Church is
the proper forum to express that belief? Why not the Methodist, Baptist,
Catholic, Orthodox, Unitarian-Universalist, Reform Jewish, Muslim,  or Hindu
religions? Why, indeed, any religion at all? How can you go from "experiencing" God
to making definitive conclusions about his nature (e.g., the Trinity, the
Virgin Birth, his omniscience, his insistence on being worshipped, etc) that are
completely at variance with the way millions of others have "experienced God" 
Are you a relativist that allows for approaching God in different ways? Is
that position of the Episcopal Church? Couldn't your column have been written by
an adherent of any faith that ackowledges, in some sense, a God? Your
arguments sound like a justification of "fideism," a term coined by noted author
Martin Gardner, who allows that atheists have the better argument, but that he
believes in God (not in a monotheistic sense) because it makes intuitive sense to
him on some level and makes him feel good in the process.

While I do not feel, as Antony Flew does, that the Universe needs to be
explained by a force acting outside of nature, at least he is acknowledging that
arriving at that conclusion does not in any way justify specific statements
about that entity, or in any way suggest that the entity in question is
all-knowing, all-powerful, demands to be recognized as the "Saviour" of humanity, and
punishes and rewards homo sapiens after death for their actions and beliefs.
That is what is called a "huge leap of faith."

By the way, would an atheist "spreading the word" be justified in citing
cases of atheists (like author Pete Hamill) who have licked alcoholism on their
own without the assistance of a "higher power"?  There are millions who have.
And what about purely secular institutions like the Atheist Center in India that
have literally saved thousand of lives in a land benighted by religious
dogma? Does that support atheism? I have never "expereinced God" despite being
raised Catholic.  Can I cite that as proof that God does not exist? If not, why
not?  Millions of people have never experienced God, and for a good reason. God
does not exist, except in the minds of those who need to believe. Sort of like
Tinker Bell.

The burden of proof of the existence of any "higher power," let alone the
Trinitarian God of the Episcopal Church, is very much on the believer.  If your
reasoning stands, then the burden of proof would be on you to disprove the
existence of Zeus, Thor, Allah, a Deist God, reincarnation or even the Easter
Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

Dennis Middlebrooks

Freethinking Activist Non-Believing New Yorkers (FANNY)

November 2004 - Statement by the Founder-Directors

    The Bush election, and the whining response from Bill Clinton
and others that Democrats need to speak out more about their
"faith" and seek to win over the Christian evangelicals who
block-vote Republican and who associate the Democratic Party
with Satan, should disabuse the godless minority of any notion of
"salvation" under the two-party system. Already liberals like the
Times's Nicholas Krystoff are calling for Democrats to support
faith-based initiatives and not to appear "too secular." That
approach will ensure that the Democrats remain a minority
party for decades to come.

    We firmly believe that the time has come for freethinkers and
religious progressives to join hands and form a Secular Party
that will unapologetically embrace our interests. Let's not worry
about whether this would hurt the Democrats or not. They are
not our allies, and never will be. Their proposed "outreach"
strategy to the Religious Right demonstrates that they attach
far more importance to holding power than to principles of any
kind. Their obsession with winning back the Red States ensures
that the Democrats will become clones of the Republican Party. 

    Meanwhile, no one seems to notice that the entire Northeast
and Pacific Coast and most of the northern Midwest has rejected
Bush for the second time. These are the most progressive, tolerant,
productive, law-abiding and best-educated parts of the USA.
The Blue States can be the foundation of a true secular
backlash against the Religious Reich.  That backlash will not be
led by the Democrats.  It is high time for a distinct and
unapologetic secular voice on the political landscape.


June 2002 - letter to the Editor of the New York Daily News (published 25 June 2002)
ROOT CAUSE
Brooklyn: So Voicer Paul Buttari blames "godless  men" for the attack on the World Trade Center. I bet he also blames "godless" men for the Crusades, the Inquisition and the violence in Northern Ireland Ireland the Middle East. Religion has been the most divisive force in history, and it is high time that humanity outgrew it.  Dennis Middlebrooks              
 - letter to the Editor of The New York Times:

    Soon after God ordered his devout servants to destroy the world Trade Center, freethinkers in the area asked the Mayor’s Office for permission to hold a memorial at Ground Zero inasmuch as, at a conservative minimum, 10% of those who lost their lives were surely atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, secular Jews, Ethical Culturists, naturalists, or other types of non-believers.  Our request was denied, and the closest to the site that our group from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York was able to get was Fraunces Tavern, where we had our own memorial service.

    Are we alone in wondering why monotheists—Muslims, Jews, Christians—are allowed by the city to have an important say in the future of the area when they are the problem, not the solution? Freethinkers who are firemen, policemen, and ordinary citizens from around the country are asking for and are deserving of an answer.

Dennis Middlebrooks
Warren Allen Smith
Freethinkers NY

January 2002  

      Lingeman, Richard, Sinclair Lewis, Rebel From Main Street (NY: Random House, 659 pp., $35)                   

    [Lewis's] contemplative and sober mood carried to the point that he was culvitating hobbies, though not the ones the Riggs doctors suggested (chemistry, horticulture). In 1942, he would take up chess, which he had played as a boy, and become a fanatic about it; he also bought a Capehart phonograph and began amassing a classical-record collection. But his search for peace of mind avoided the traditional consolations of religion--at least organized religion. When a writer and editor named Warren Allen Smith sent him a questionnaire asking him to choose from several definitions of humanism the one most congenial to him, Lewis selected "naturalistic (scientific) humanism."  To an earlier query about his religion, he contended that people raised without religious belief seemed as happy and as ethical as those who did have a faith.  

Sep-Oct-Nov-Dec 2001

        -- Dennis Middlebrooks, taking some time out from getting published in The Daily News, The New York Post, and elsewhere, hosted with Philadelphia's Margaret Downey a 14 Sep 2001 memorial at Fraunces Tavern for the estimated 300 to 600 freethinkers who died in the Twin Towers disaster. Attending were members of the Tom Paine Foundation, the Brooklyn and New York City Ethical Societies, the Corliss Lamont chapter of the American Humanist Association, the Long Island Free Inquiry Chapter, the Staten Island Atheists, the New YorkCity Atheists, the Fourth Universalist Society, the Campus Freethought Association in Pennsylvania, and the
Philadelphia Freethought Association.         

        -- Warren Allen Smith, who with Middlebrooks tried unsuccessfully to get permission from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's office to enter Ground Zero, complained widely to officials. The Villager published a story, ATHEISTS BARRED FROM GROUND ZERO, telling how the Mayor's office never responded to the requests of the agnostics, atheists, humanists, secularists, and non-monotheists, adding, "Though they couldn't get into ground zero, after a group dinner at Fraunces Tavern, the widow of philosopher Corliss Lamont, Beth Lamont , who lives in Battery Park City, led them behind the scenes to talk with workers and observe the destruction from a spot near ground zero, ending up at Fox Hounds on South End Ave. According to an e-mail press release, Freethinkers are "concerned that monotheists throughout the world, Jews, Christians, Muslims, are killing each other and are making Earth unsafe for human beings by fighting over which of their gods is the true one."

October 2001

-- Warren Allen Smith was roasted 27 Oct 1921 on his 80th birthday by the Coalition for the Community of Reason at a formal Who's Who in Hell dinner in Washington, DC. Key organizers were Margaret Downey (Thomas Paine Foundation), Tony Hileman (American Humanist Association), and Prof. Herb Silverman (Math Department, U of South Carolina). Dennis Middlebrooks attended, one of the presenters was ex-Ambassador to Nepal Carleton Coon Jr. (son of the eminent anthropologist), and e-mailed birthday greetings were read from Mrs. Isaac Asimov in New York City, Sir Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka, and numerous others.

August 2001

--Middlebrooks and Smith entertained Margaret Downey at Tavern on the Green in New York City's Central Park. She has arranged for a Philadelphia picnic at which Smith's Who's Who in Hell will be featured (Middlebrooks donated one copy of the $125 book to be raffled) and a 27 Oct 2001 80th birthday party for Smith in Washington, D.C.

-- Mick Lambe has been invited to become an honorary member of FANNY, and he has accepted. He heads PARIAH (People Against Racism in Aboriginal Homelands) in Australia's Northern Territory. After a long struggle, this valiant Irishman who left London for Australia has just e-mailed us:

Warren

In a totally unexpected result the CLP government lost power here after 26 years of government. No-one predicted this outcome. All that pundits can agree on is that racism (and the NT's perceived reputation as a redneck bastion) was the major factor.

We're still in shock.

We are still exposing racism and corruption here in the courts. Grassroots exposure is necessary to ensure an understanding of why modern Australian society is still vulnerable to nineteenth century philosophies on race.

Cheers,

Mick Lambe

PARIAH - People Against Racism In Aboriginal Homelands

http://www.country-liberal-party.com/

Northern Territory - Australia