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The monthly newsletter of the Internet Infidels


Internet Infidels Newsletter

November 1996

In this issue:

II Officers

Jeffery Jay Lowder

Although the leadership of II is still working on a set of bylaws, several individuals have graciously agreed to serve with me as officers of the II. But before I introduce the new officers, I think a word about each of the previous officers is in order.

Brett Lemoine , co-founder of the Internet Infidels, supplied our first server. Not only did Brett make atheist.tamu.edu a reality, but he was the one who provided most of the technical support for our web and list servers. So the Internet Infidels owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Mr. Brett Lemoine.

Robby Berry is a jack-of-all-trades. A computer programmer by education and philosopher of religion by experience, Rob contributed to the Internet Infidels in numerous ways. Some of Rob Berry's accomplishments as a Co-Manager include: contributing a major chapter to "The Jury Is In" on prophecy fulfillment, contributing a major portion of the soc.atheism FAQ, as well as enormous amounts of time on HTML, CGI, and Perl programming for the Secular Web. And Rob isn't done yet. As an atheist father, he plans to create a "Kid's Corner" on the Secular Web and a mailing list for freethought parents. More power to you, Rob.

Stephen McIntyre was for the last year the person responsible for making the Internet Infidels Feedback pages happen. When I started the Feedback pages in 1995, I quickly realized how much work was involved and asked for someone to take over for me. Stephen quickly assumed responsibility for this very tedious job which can take several hours a month. In addition to the feedback pages, Stephen has also been a tremendous help in making documents available in HTML format. We're very lucky to have Stephen on our team.

The new officers of the Internet Infidels are as follows:

President: Jeffery Jay Lowder
Vice President: Bill Schultz
Secretary: Mark Vuletic
Treasurer: Jeff Lucas
Public Relations Director: Clark Adams
Historian: Ruth Prentice

Bill Schultz is the reason the Secular Web has its own server. He helped us locate our Internet Service Provider (ISP) and has been paying the bulk of the money to pay our ISP-related costs. As an agnostic, Bill also maintains his own web site: the "Agnostic Church" (<URL:https://agnostic.org/>). It's worth a look.

As the II Secretary, Mark Vuletic's main responsibility is producing the II Feedback pages each month. Depending upon the amount of mail we receive, this task can take quite a bit of time. We're fortunate to have someone as dedicated as Mark Vuletic to continue this valued service.

Our Treasurer brings with him a lot of experience serving as the Treasurer for other organizations. Upon his appointment, Jeff Lucas quickly created our bank accounts and has been handling our financial affairs admirably ever since. Thanks Jeff!

Clark Adams probably knows more freethinkers than Paul Kurtz, Michael Martin, and Dan Barker combined! As the II Public Relations Director, Clark serves as the II "Ambassador" to other freethought organizations. He has also already represented the II in the media on a couple of occasions and proven that he is a natural spokesman. Keep up the great work, Clark!

Last, but certainly not least, is Ruth Prentice. As a professional who is just completing her MBA, she has a very common-sense approach to things which we appreciate very much. She is also an excellent writer. I know she will do well as the II Historian.

Please join me in thanking both the new and the old II officers for all of their hard work!

Editorial: Why Do Freethinkers Have to be Sooooo Negative?

Jeffery Jay Lowder

I had an out-of-state friend visit me a couple of months ago. They happened to be here while there was a meeting of a local freethought group. The whole day of the meeting I was debating whether to invite my friend. Although my friend is very open-minded and expressed interest in attending the meeting, my friend is also a theist and I wasn't very comfortable with the idea of bringing someone I care about to a forum where they -- not their beliefs -- would be attacked by all of the so-called "freethinkers" at the meeting.

I decided to attend the meeting alone.

As it turns out, the meeting I attended was "safe for theists." This time. But what about the next meeting? The fact of the matter is that every freethought group I have ever been involved with has had its share of individuals who are very vocal about their pet causes. These same individuals also tend to be "tact-challenged," to use politically-correct terminology.

I remember the first time I ever attended a "freethought" meeting. I was an agnostic, and I brought a Christian friend with me. We were both appalled by the people at the meeting. Everyone there reminded us how they were "open-minded" and willing to listen to other points of view. But as soon as all of the "freethinkers" found out I was an agnostic, they immediately proceeded to attack me. And that was simply for being an agnostic! They were so rude to my Christian friend that I ended up apologizing to him after the meeting. Suffice it to say that was the first and last time I attended a meeting of that particular group.

I fully admit that I probably have not attended a representative sample of all freethought meetings, but all of the reports I receive (and I receive quite a few) indicate that this type of behavior seems to be the norm for many "freethought" groups, at least in the U.S.

I will not speculate about why "freethinkers" do this, but I will state my conviction that this attitude is not helping the freethought movement at all. Attacking someone personally simply because they hold a different set of beliefs than you does not usually change their mind; it only builds resentment and animosity towards the position you wish to promote. Attack the belief, not the believer.

Email Lists Moved to infidels.org

Although we have successfully moved our web site from the old server to infidels.org, the transition is far from over. Our next step in this critical process is to move all of our email lists over to infidels.org. This move involves three major changes to the status quo:

1. All of our email lists are now run off infidels.org. You should update your addressbooks appropriately.
2. We have changed the software we use as our list server. This means the commands you can send to the list server are different.
3. We have made enormous changes to the list of mailing lists we offer. Some lists were deleted while other new lists were created. (Check our "What's New?" page for details.)

Pending and Upcoming Projects

Although the server change has taken up most of our time, we have also been very busy on a number of projects which we hope you will enjoy and find useful:

  • Atheists United. We're working with a representative of Atheists United to give that organization a presence on the Web.
  • First Amendment Update. We've teamed up with Chris Roth to make his excellent newsletter available on the Secular Web.
  • Freethought Exchange and Freethought Observer. Tim Gorski, who edits both of these publications, has also expressed an interest in some sort of web presence for them.
  • "Old Testament Life and Literature" by Gerald A. Larue

Open Text Ban Successful

We've received word that the recent boycott of the Open Text search engine -- initiated by Internet Infidel Mathew -- was succesful and that Open Text is no longer selling the way to the top of their search results. For more information, contact Mathew at <meta pobox>.

Paul Kurtz Undergoes Surgery

On Monday, December 2, we learned that Paul Kurtz, founder and Chairman of CSICOP and the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, had a blockage in his heart which required bypass surgery.

The surgery was performed yesterday afternoon (December 4) at Buffalo General Hospital.

We are very pleased to report that the operation was a complete success. The surgeons stated that it went perfectly, and he should be back stronger than ever. Of course, he will need some time to recover and will be in the hospital for the next several days and then out of the office for six or seven weeks.

If you would like to send a card or your best wishes the address is:

Paul Kurtz
Buffalo General Hospital
100 High Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

or care of us at:

Paul Kurtz
PO Box 703
Amherst, NY 14226

[This message was originally published on the CSICOP Announcement List.]

Atheist Family Kicked Off AOL

Timotheus Gorski, M.D.

A family of atheists who belong to the North Texas Church of Freethought was kicked off AOL recently. No warning, either. The "explanation" was that of generic violation of terms of service. The only use of AOL that they had had was that he had sent some clients email files, which had never caused a problem before, and that the family's teenage daughter had expressed her skepticism and problems with religious faith in one of the talk forums ...

This is the umpteenth scenario I have heard of where religious skeptics have been kicked off or otherwise persecuted by AOL. They don't seem to like religious skeptics there.

[Dr. Gorski is editor of The Freethought Exchange and The Freethought Observer.]

Errata: Freethought Email Addresses Available

In a previous newsletter we erroneously claimed that we were selling vanity email addresses on the domain skeptic.org. We do not own that domain name.

We do, however, own several other freethought domain names: atheism.org, freethinker.org, freethinkers.org, freethought.org, infidel.org, infidels.org, secular.org, and skeptics.org. Vanity email addresses on any of these domains are available at a price of $20 US per year.

To reserve your freethought email address created, please send a check or money order (payable on a U.S. bank) for $20 US to Internet Infidels, Inc., 7437 S. Eastern #302, Las Vegas, NV 89123, USA. Please indicate on the check 1) your current email address, 2) the email address you would like to have, and 3) an alternate address in case your first choice is already taken.

[Questions about the vanity email addresses may be sent to (email address removed)]

The opinions expressed in the Internet Infidels Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Internet Infidels.