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America’s top two elected atheists


Americans elect a lot of public officials – over half a million, from the President down to school district level. If atheists and other nonbelievers were represented fairly, you would expect about 50 in the US Congress and another 50,000 at State and local level.

In 2007, the Secular Coalition for America tried to find them. They found only five. Three were very local officials: a school board president, a school committee member and a town meeting member. And the two most senior were both in their seventies, much closer to the end than the start of their political careers.

Pete Stark, United States Congressman

The first, Pete Stark, was born in 1931 and served in the Air Force and founded a bank before being elected to Congress in 1973 to represent a liberal district in California. He grew up a Republican, but had switched sides when he opposed the Vietnam War. He is a Unitarian Universalist, a congregation in which members seek their own truth about theological issues. Stark does not believe in a supreme being, saying that he is more interested in people, though he adds that the Stark family does recognize a supreme being – his wife Deborah.

So what horrific future would this openly atheist Congressman inflict on Americans? His shocking priorities are universal health care, ending the war in Iraq and protecting Medicare. He wants higher taxes for the wealthy and on cigarettes. He wants incentives for teachers to work in low-income schools. He wants higher payroll taxes to better fund social security. He wants better job re-training, child care and housing assistance. He supports the UN, the Kyoto protocol, abortion, gay marriage and affirmative action. He opposes the death penalty, and wants to restrict sex and violence on television. May God protect us all from Pete Stark.

Stark is unruffled by religious fanaticism, saying that ‘the leading candidates all agree that they believe in a supreme being, but forget about it as soon as they are elected.’ He believes that religion affects the style, rather than the substance, of the main political debate in America, which he says is between the Democrat view that government makes our lives better and the Republican view that government is dangerous for us. On ‘coming out’, he looked forward to ‘working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social service.’

Ernie Chambers, Nebraska State Senator

Next comes Ernie Chambers, the only openly atheist lawmaker at State level. He was born in 1937 and worked as a barber before he became a local civil rights leader in the 1960s. He was first elected as an independent candidate to the Nebraska Senate in 1971, and is the State’s only black Senator, its longest serving Senator and the only one to wear blue tee-shirts and jeans instead of a suit. His crimes against God include ending corporal punishment in state schools, getting equal state pensions for women, and blocking the legalization of concealed weapons. He strongly opposes the death penalty, and starts every legislative session by proposing its abolition.

Chambers got world attention in 2007 when he took a legal case against God. In a different case, a Nebraska judge had barred a woman from using the words ‘rape’ or ‘victim’ while alleging that she was a rape victim. He insisted that she describe what happened as ‘sex’, which is a bit like calling a mugging a ‘financial transaction’. The woman took a lawsuit against the judge, but her case was dismissed as being frivolous. Chambers took her side, arguing that the Nebraska constitution allows anyone to sue anyone. To make this point in a satirical way, he sued God in the district court of Douglas County, Nebraska.

Chambers wanted an injunction ordering God to cease certain harmful activities including the making of terroristic threats as well as ‘fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornados, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like.’ He argued that the court had jurisdiction because God, being omnipresent, was personally in Douglas County, and that he should not have to serve legal papers because God, being omniscient, already knew about the case.

Three Local Elected Officials

The three local officials who responded to the Secular Coalition were Terry Doran, president of the School Board in Berkeley, California.; Nancy Glista on the School Committee in Franklin, Maine; and Michael Cerone, a Town Meeting Member from Arlington, Massachusetts. And that, in the early twenty-first century, was the extent of openly atheist elected officials in America: Pete Stark married to his supreme being in California, Ernie Chambers suing God in Nebraska, and three local officials scattered across three million square miles of land.

Clearly there are many, many more elected atheists in the American closet. If one in every ten citizens rejects belief in gods, then about fifty members of Congress should do so. The Secular Coalition says there are 21 others who are not yet willing to go public. Even if this is true, it would still be less than half the amount that would be proportional to the overall population. It is time for elected American atheists to stand up for their rational beliefs.

via America’s top two elected atheists.

via America’s top two elected atheists.

Lawsuits against God – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Actual suits

In the U.S. state of Nebraska, State Senator Ernie Chambers filed a suit in 2008 against God, seeking a permanent injunction against God’s harmful activities, as an effort to publicize the issue of public access to the court system.[1] The suit was dismissed because God could not be properly notified, not having an address. The Judge stated, “Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice”.[1] The senator, believing God to be singular and all-knowing, responded “The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgement is a recognition of God’s omniscience … Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit.”[1][2] Chambers filed the lawsuit in response to another lawsuit that he considers to be frivolous and inappropriate.[3]

In response to Chambers’ case, two responses were filed. The first was from a Corpus Christi lawyer, Eric Perkins, who wanted to answer the question “what would God say”.[4] The second was filed in Douglas County, Nebraska District Court. The source of the second response, claiming to be from “God”, is unclear as no contact information was given.[4]

On July 30, 2008, local media sources reported the Douglas County District Court was going to deny Chambers’ lawsuit because Chambers had failed to notify the defendant.[5] However, on August 1, Chambers was granted a court date of August 5 in order to proceed with his lawsuit. “The scheduling hearing will give me a chance to lay out the facts that would justify the granting of the motion,” Chambers was quoted as saying. He added, “Once the court enters the injunction, that’s as much as I can do,” he said. “That’s as much as I would ask the court. I wouldn’t expect them to enforce it.”[6]

However, a judge finally did throw out the case, saying the Almighty was not properly served due to his unlisted home address.[7] As of 5 November 2008, Chambers filed an appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court.[8] The former state senator John DeCamp and E. O. Augustsson in Sweden, asked to represent God. Augustsson’s letters, mentioning the Bjorn (see the BjornSocialist Republic) were stricken as “frivolous”. The Appeals Court gave Chambers until February 24 to show that he notified DeCamp and Augustsson of his brief,[9] which he did. The case was finally closed on February 25 when the Nebraska Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and vacated the order of the district court. The court quoted cases according to which “[a] court decides real controversies and determines rights actually controverted, and does not address or dispose of abstract questions or issues that might arise in hypothetical or fictitious situation or setting”.

A Romanian prisoner, identified as Pavel M, serving 20 years after being convicted of murder, filed a lawsuit against the Romanian Orthodox Church, as God’s representatives in Romania, for failing to keep him from the Devil, essentially stating that his baptism had been a binding contract.[10] The suit was dismissed because the defendant was neither an individual nor a company, and was not subject to the civil court of law’s jurisdiction.[11]

Fictional suits

In the comedy film The Man Who Sued God, a fisherman played by Billy Connolly successfully challenges the right of insurance companies to refuse payment for a destroyed boat on the common legal exemption clause of an Act of God. In a suit against the world’s religious institutions as God’s representatives on Earth, the religious institutions face the dilemma of either having to state God does not exist to uphold the legal principle, or being held liable for damages caused by Acts of God.

Similarly, in an Indian film, Oh my god, the protagonist Kanji Mehta files a lawsuit against God when his shop is destroyed in an earthquake and the insurance company refuses to take his claim, stating that “Act of God” is not covered under his insurance policy.

In the “Angels And Blimps” episode of the television legal drama Ally McBeal, a boy with leukaemia attempts to sue God. In the episode “The Nutcrackers” of the television legal drama comedy Boston Legal, a woman sues God for the death of her husband. “God in the Dock”, a 1980 episode of Christian TV series Insight, featured Richard Beymer as God put on trial by humanity.[12]

In the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov, one of the characters tells the story of a grand inquisitor in Spain who meets an incarnation of Jesus, interrogates him, and exiles him.

Former Auschwitz concentration camp inmate Elie Wiesel is said to have witnessed three Jewish prisoners try God in absentia for abandoning the Jewish people during the Holocaust. From this experience, Wiesel wrote the play and novel The Trial of God. It is set in a Ukrainian village during 1649 after a massacre of the Jewish inhabitants,[13] possibly as part of the Khmelnytsky Uprising. In the play, three travelling minstrels arrive in the village, having intended to perform a play. Instead they perform a mock trial of God for allowing the massacre. The verdict is innocent, after a stirring lone defence by a stranger who, in a twist, is revealed to be the Devil.

The television play God on Trial, written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, depicts a scene similar to that attributed to Elie Wiesel, but is also described by Boyce as “apocryphal”.[14] In it, three Auschwitz prisoners sue God. The trial returns a guilty verdict, although with likely reasons for appeal.[15]

In the Touched by an Angel episode “Jones vs God”, a town is dying from a drought while other towns around it have received rain. Mr. Jones therefore sues God for unfair treatment. Tess represents God in the matter.

In a satirical news piece, The Onion parody newspaper published an article stating that New York attorneys had filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the Children of Israel (the Israelites).[16] The suit alleged a breach of the religious covenant between God and his chosen people, and sought $4.2 trillion in punitive and compensatory damages.

Blameless in Abaddon, the second book of the Godhead Trilogy by James Morrow, features a magistrate who tries God for crimes against humanity.

Christ on Trial is a book written by Roger Dixon describing a TV program trying Jesus Christ in a US court.

[edit]Pavel M

via Lawsuits against God – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

via Lawsuits against God – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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