News Archive

On December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones III issued a 139 page ruling on the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, stating that a rule requiring teachers to present Intelligent Design (ID) as a scientific alternative to evolution is unconstitutional. In Judge Jones' own words:

After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.

We in the Atheist Community of Austin applaud this ruling. We have been saying for many years that Intelligent Design is not science, but merely biblical creationism dressed up with the trappings of science.

Since the introduction of the Wedge Strategy in 1990's, it has been embarrassingly clear that Intelligent Design is a front for a group of individuals whose ultimate goal is to undermine scientific knowledge and shoehorn religion into public schools. They have done no original research, produced no scientific results, and accomplished little more than a massive and relentless public relations campaign for their ideas. Their strategy has been to repeatedly infiltrate school districts in individual towns across the country, instituting changes in local education standards, in the hopes that ID might eventually receive a facade of credibility if they win enough political battles. 

Our home city of Austin received a taste of this campaign in 2003, when the neo-creationist road show came to Texas to demand that misleading statements about evolution be added to the state's textbooks. In that instance, as in this one, they were resoundingly defeated. 

Unless Judge Jones' ruling is appealed, it will only directly affect Pennsylvania school districts. However, because the ruling is so thorough, it will likely serve as a legal template for any future decisions on the topic of ID in schools. Judge Jones minced no words regarding the scientific uselessness of Intelligent Design, also stating: 

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

The issue of creationism affects education throughout the country. It is not a matter of atheists against Christians. It is a matter of good science, backed by decades of evidence, against a nonscientific political crusade. It is about religion masquerading as science, trying to sidestep the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state that exists in this country. This week, a major blow was struck against this agenda.

Press Release
Concerning the Harris County Appeal over its Courthouse Bible Display
For Immediate Release
December 5, 2005

In 1956 the Star Hope Mission erected a stone monument near the main entrance to the Harris County Courthouse. The prominent feature of this monument was a King James Bible in a glass display case. Attorney and Harris County resident Kay Staley brought action against the county, seeking the permanent removal of the Bible display on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment. On August 10, 2004, District Court Judge Sim Lake delivered his final judgment on the matter, agreeing that this display was a violation of the First Amendment and ordering its removal.

The Atheist Community of Austin adds its voice to the many reasonable voices speaking out in favor of the original verdict and against its appeal. Harris County officials are wielding their power and squandering public funds in an ugly and foolish attempt to garner political support and overturn a just verdict. The “Bible monument” was erected, in part, to convey the erroneous message that ours is a Christian government. After lying empty for 7 years, the Bible was restored to the display on behalf of a political campaign to “bring Christianity back to the law.” Even without such obvious motives, this display was a clear violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The Atheist Community of Austin applauds the courage of Kay Staley who, despite hate mail and death threats, stood up for the rights of all Americans. We are encouraged by Judge Lake's integrity in upholding the Constitution and we remain optimistic that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will continue to uphold the Constitution and deny this appeal. Government neutrality toward religion is essential to ensure religious freedom in our diverse culture. The First Amendment protects the rights of people of all faiths and no faith by ensuring that favoritism toward a particular religion or type of religion is prohibited. The removal of this display doesn’t prevent anyone from holding or practicing religious beliefs – it simply prevents divisiveness and favoritism. The removal of this display reaffirms the very foundations of American culture:

  • That justice is blind to prejudice.
  • That freedom is available to all.
  • And that equality is truly universal.

The Atheist Community of Austin is organized as a nonprofit educational corporation to develop and support the atheist community, to provide opportunities for socializing and friendship, to promote secular viewpoints, to encourage positive atheist culture, to defend the first amendment principle of state-church separation, to oppose discrimination against atheists and to work with other organizations in pursuit of common goals.

The Atheist Community of Austin is dismayed by the passing of Proposition 2, the amendment to the Texas State Constitution concerning same-sex marriage. The amendment was proposed and championed by Christian conservatives who framed the issue as religious, despite the fact that same-sex, state-granted marriage is a civil rights issue. The State of Texas has never been in the business of sanctifying marriage. Christian conservatives successfully marshaled the votes of believers who were misinformed and manipulated with fear about what was at stake with regard to marriage. 

In denying the contractual rights of a minority of Americans, Christians have used their religious beliefs and sheer numbers for the purposes of religious persecution. America is a constitutional republic where the rights of minorities are not appropriate subjects for majority votes. The US Constitution is on the side of same-sex relationships for both equal protection (14th amendment) and the free exercise of their religion (1st amendment). We predict that when prohibitions against same-sex marriage are successfully overturned on constitutional grounds, as were interracial marriage bans in the 1960s, religious conservatives will cry “judicial activism” and persecution of their beliefs. Despite their shrill claims, the religious liberties of conservative Christians have never had their rights threatened by the possibility same-sex marriage. In contrast, minority religions have been adversely affected by same-sex marriage bans through the tyranny of the majority. Religious freedom is a founding concept of this country, but it has been trampled upon.

The benefits of marriage should be available to all consenting adults who desire marriage and who are willing to undertake the rights and responsibilities of marriage. The poorly written amendment is vindictive toward a minority of Americans and their children. Far from being “pro-family”, the passage of the amendment will harm the children of gays and lesbians, and it interferes with their earned benefits. The amendment weakens the Texas economy by making it more difficult for Texas business to attract skilled workers. Legal challenges over the vague wording of the amendment will likely waste millions of taxpayer dollars.

The Atheist Community of Austin encourages Christians and other believers to examine their collective impact on the world and focus their attention on issues that are truly disruptive to our nation and the world, such as government corruption, education of our children, addressing poverty and health care, and care for the environment. While fomenting hate is a means of mobilizing the vote and reelecting conservative politicians, it does nothing to improve the world.

See the ACA's official statement on same-sex marriage issued March 8, 2004.

The last week of August, the world watched in growing disbelief as life in New Orleans spiraled downward into a nightmare of filthy water, abandoned bodies and desperate citizens pleading for help. Much has been said of the nation’s disappointment in the official response, however, Americans of all stripes, including atheists, are generously contributing to front line relief organizations in an outpouring of support for our Gulf Coast neighbors. The Atheist Community of Austin is now accepting donations that will be passed along to disaster relief organizations such as the Red Cross. Here’s how you can help: * Write a check payable to ACA, and note “Katrina Relief Fund” on it. - Mail it to… Atheist Community of Austin PO Box 3798 Austin, TX 78764 - Or bring it to the meeting this coming Sunday at Crescent City Beignets * Visit http://www.atheist-community.org/donate/ and make a donation to the general fund through PayPal. Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (without the X) indicating you wish your donation to go to the Katrina Relief Fund.

ACA will pass 100% of this money along to organizations that are both worthy and sufficiently secular. This is something we can do together as a community, and feel good about it.

Congratulations to the new Board of Directors, which will sit for the first time on June 12. Our current co-chairs, Jeff Dee and Steve Elliott, will continue in thier positions, as well treasurer Don Rhoades. Joe Rhodes will take over as secretary and Jeff Dee as archivist. The board will include returning Directors Don Baker, Russell Glasser and Ashley Perrien, with new members Chuck Clark, Mark Loewe, Arval Bohn and Keith Berka. 

Besides the election, we voted to affiliate ourselves with American Atheists, the Council for Secular Humanism and the American Humanist Society.

Atheist Community of Austin

The Atheist Community of Austin is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting positive atheism and the separation of church and state. The ACA serves the local Austin community through outreach programs, providing informational resources and various volunteer activities. In addition, the ACA serves the community-at-large through free online portals including informational wikis, regular audio/video podcasts and interactive blogs.

We define atheism as the lack of belief in gods. This definition also encompasses what most people call agnosticism.

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