1. Maryland
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    06 Mar '10 12:42
    You find as you look around the world that every single bit of human progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery,every moral progress that there has been made in the world, has consistently been opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in it's churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. Bertrend Russell Why I Am Not A Christian 1927
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    06 Mar '10 13:252 edits
    Originally posted by 667joe
    You find as you look around the world that every single bit of human progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery,every moral progress that there has been made in the world, has consistently been opposed by the l enemy of moral progress in the world. Bertrend Russell Why I Am Not A Christian 1927
    Not so. In fact, many civil rights movements have only succeeded with the support of churches. The practice of slavery, for example, had a long history of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. In 1839, Pope Gregory XVI wrote In Supremo, condemning slavery, especially when racially motivated. This galvanised the American Catholic Church to oppose slavery. The Christian churches were also instrumental in abolishing apartheid -- think especially of Martin Luther King.

    Russell is an unreliable orator, striving for rhetorical effect, rather than historical accuracy. He is a better when he confines himself to logic.
  3. Cape Town
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    06 Mar '10 13:42
    Originally posted by 667joe
    [b.... every single bit of human progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, ..... has consistently been opposed by the organized churches of the world. [/b]
    It is obvious to anyone that such blanket claims about such general subjects cannot possibly hold true.
    I am not a big supporter of religion (being an atheist), but I do not see the benefit of deliberately lying about them. If you want people to change their ways then make a valid reasoned argument that you yourself believe.
    One reason why I rarely take theists seriously is that they frequently make claims they don't believe (not all and not always, but enough that I take anything they say with extreme skepticism.)
  4. Account suspended
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    06 Mar '10 14:001 edit
    Originally posted by 667joe
    You find as you look around the world that every single bit of human progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery,every moral progress that there has been made in the world, has consistently been opposed by the l enemy of moral progress in the world. Bertrend Russell Why I Am Not A Christian 1927
    this is so woefully ignorant as to test belief itself.
  5. SubscriberAThousandYoung
    Just another day
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    06 Mar '10 14:221 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    It is obvious to anyone that such blanket claims about such general subjects cannot possibly hold true.
    I am not a big supporter of religion (being an atheist), but I do not see the benefit of deliberately lying about them. If you want people to change their ways then make a valid reasoned argument that you yourself believe.
    One reason why I rarely take eve (not all and not always, but enough that I take anything they say with extreme skepticism.)
    Yep. I'm an atheist with a bias against politically organized religion, and I think Russel's quote is nonsense.

    MLK was some sort of pastor wasn't he?
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    06 Mar '10 14:551 edit
    Originally posted by 667joe
    You find as you look around the world that every single bit of human progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery,every moral progress that there has been made in the world, has consistently been opposed by the l enemy of moral progress in the world. Bertrend Russell Why I Am Not A Christian 1927
    Do you mean that Abolitionists, Civil Rights workers, for instance, never ever used biblical concepts to validate their social philosophies ?

    Do you mean MLK was only pretending to be a Baptist minister ?
    Or you mean Bishop Desmond Tutu was only pretending to be an Anglican clergyman ?

    Do you mean Sojourner Truth who fought for women's rights was only pretending to be an itenerent Christian gospel preacher ?
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    06 Mar '10 15:01
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Yep. I'm an atheist with a bias against politically organized religion, and I think Russel's quote is nonsense.

    MLK was some sort of pastor wasn't he?
    Let us just say that the observation is really not that historically objective.

    But it makes a good case for Christian bashing for the uneducated. We're raising a generation like this now.
  8. Maryland
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    06 Mar '10 15:53
    For example, right now, the Christians are doing everything they can to block gays from fully enjoying the civil right of marriage.
  9. Territories Unknown
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    06 Mar '10 16:07
    Originally posted by 667joe
    For example, right now, the Christians are doing everything they can to block gays from fully enjoying the civil right of marriage.
    And, in your book, somehow despite all historical support otherwise, you consider marriage between gays as a progression of morality?

    That's just plain stupidity in motion right there.
  10. Maryland
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    06 Mar '10 16:25
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    And, in your book, somehow despite all historical support otherwise, you consider marriage between gays as a progression of morality?

    That's just plain stupidity in motion right there.
    You prove my point exactly. You sir are standing in the way of moral progress. If it had been 50 years ago, you would have been against interracial marriage. Seventy years ago, you would have been against full civil rights for blacks. One hundred years ago, you would have been against allowing women to vote. One hundred and fifty years ago you would have been pro slavery. Your pathetic argument today was applied to all those causes by the nimrods of the day.
  11. Joined
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    06 Mar '10 16:36
    Originally posted by 667joe
    You prove my point exactly. You sir are standing in the way of moral progress. If it had been 50 years ago, you would have been against interracial marriage. Seventy years ago, you would have been against full civil rights for blacks. One hundred years ago, you would have been against allowing women to vote. One hundred and fifty years ago you would ha ...[text shortened]... lavery. Your pathetic argument today was applied to all those causes by the nimrods of the day.
    But this is not the point. Churches do not always lag behind moral progress. Very often they challenge the prevailing moral norms (I think particularly of areas of social justice in which churches are most proactive); they also engender moral progress, as in the examples I gave.
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    PRISON REFORM

    JOHN HOWARD AND PRISON REFORM

    "Terry Carlson, in his 1990 biographical tract on Howard, remarks:

    'Howard's detailed proposals for improvements were designed to enhance the physical and mental health of the prisoners and the security and order of the prison. His recommendations pertaining to such matters as the prison location, plan and furnishings, the provision of adequate water supply, and prisoner's diet promoted hygiene and physical health. Recommendations concerning the quality of prison personnel, rules related to the maintenance of standards of health and order and an independent system of inspection, reflect the need for prison personnel to set a moral example.'"

    "John Howard, Prison Reformer," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Howard_%28prison_reformer&action=edit> (27 Dec. 2006).



    HOWARD'S VIEWS ON RELIGION

    "In his major work The State of the Prisons in England and Wales (1777), John Howard insists strongly on the importance of religious services and education in prisons: "A Chaplain is necessary here in every view. - To reform prisoners, or to make them better as to their morals, should always be the leading view in every house of correction, and their earnings should only be a secondary object. As rational and immortal beings we owe this to them...."
    Schmid, Muriel, "The eye of God: Religious Beliefs and Punishment in Early Nineteenth-Century Prison Reform." Theology Today <http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3664/is_200301/ai_n9199677> (28 January, 2007).



    "There can be no question that John Howard merits the accolade of being the father of prison reform."

    "Non-conformist, devout and narrow-minded in adherence to his own interpretations of Christian doctrine, he could nonetheless be tolerant and catholic to those who held different theological views. As long as they were involved in good works to combat human suffering and wickedness, they were accepted. "

    "Biography of John Howard," John Howard Society Web Site. <http://www.johnhoward.ca/bio.htm> (27 Dec. 2006).

    THE IMPROVED TREATMENT OF MENTAL PATIENTS

    Philippe Pinel and John Tuke are considered to be the pioneers in humanizing the treatment of mental patients in mental institution. Before Pinel and Tuke, other caring people invested time and energy into serving the mentally ill. They were the ones who were the true roots of reform.
    "The Irish Saint Dympna, a distant and misty figure, with her martyrdom inspired a millenary tradition of family and community care for the mentally ill at Geel, in Belgium. She is the Catholic patron of the mentally afflicted."


    "The French Saint Vincent de Paul, a powerful leader, took care of the insane and the poor in gentle ways; worked for reforms in hospitals, education, delinquency, and penology; founded religious orders dedicated to the sick; and set in motion the hospitals of La Salpêtrière and Le Bicêtre."


    "The Portuguese-Spaniard Saint John of God, a humble shepherd, a marginal soldier, an ignorant construction worker, and a modest salesman of books, has had more relevance to psychiatry than has Dympna, the martyr, or Vincent de Paul, the social reformer. No other saint has had more practical and sustained influence on hospital psychiatry than he, and it is a mystery of sorts that his name still awaits the distinguished place of honor it so richly deserves."

    Rumbaut, R. D., "Saints and Psychiatry, " Journal of Religion and Health, Springer Netherlands, Volume 15, Number 1, January, 1976. <http://www.springerlink.com/content/jr35261865124618> (29 January, 2007).



    "The first humane impulse of any considerable importance in this field seems to have been aroused in America. In the year 1751 certain members of the Society of Friends founded a small hospital for the insane, on better principles, in Pennsylvania. To use the language of its founders, it was intended ``as a good work, acceptable to God.'' Twenty years later Virginia established a similar asylum, and gradually others appeared in other colonies."

    Dickson White, Andrew, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1898. "http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/White/insanity/pinel.html, (30 Dec. 2006).



    PHILIPPE PINEL, AND WILLIAM TUKE

    Philippe Pinel: It is hard to determine the religious views of this very humane and caring man. No doubt he deviated from the previously held view that serious mental illness was the work of demons. Yet, his advocacy for humane treatment was by no means new, as seen above.

    William Tuke: "A similar (Humane) regime of care was advocated by William Tuke at the York Retreat founded in England in 1792 with Quaker assistance. Along with removing mechanical restraint whenever possible, Tuke emphasized humanitarian treament of the patients, as well as farm work, recreation, exercise, ample food and an atmosphere of religious sentiment in keeping with the Quaker foundations of the Retreat."

    "History of the Brandon Mental Health Centre." <http://www.hillmanweb.com/bmhc/introtxt.html> (30 Dec. 2006).

    "An English Quaker Named William Tuke (1732-1819) ...founded the York Retreat, where about 30 patients lived as part of a small community in quiet country houses and engaged in a combination of rest, talk, manual work. The efforts of the York Retreat centered around minimizing restraints and cultivating rationality and moral strength."

    "Moral treatment," Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_treatment> (30 Dec. 2006).



    AFTER PINEL AND TUKE...

    "Did the actions of the conscientious objectors (COs) in exposing conditions at institutions during and immediately after World War II make a difference in America’s care and treatment of people with mental illness and mental retardation? The answer to this question is most certainly "Yes," but it is difficult to say how much of a difference they made."

    "Disability Studies for Teachers," CHP Center on Human Policy. <http://www.disabilitystudiesforteachers.org/files/COS_DIFFERENCE.pdf> (17 April, 2007).



    "During World War II many Mennonite conscientious objectors worked in mental hospitals in lieu of military service, and saw the need for a level of care based on individual dignity and recognition that we are all created in the image of God. They discovered that many of their patients could be moved toward wholeness through simple caring and genuine love. In the years that followed the war, Mennonite churches established mental health centers for the purpose of assuring excellence in treatment for their own people and for the broader community. "

    "Kings View Behavioral Health System, Company History." <http://www.kingsview.org> (17 April, 2007).

    THE ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

    The first philosopher who wrote eloquently against the inhumanity of capital punishment was the Italian, Cesare Beccaria, who was a strong believer in the Christian God. The following quote extracted from his very influential work, Of Crimes and Punishments, shows, unequivocally, that he was a believer.

    "In short, others have imagined, that the greatness of the sin should aggravate the crime. But the fallacy of this opinion will appear on the slightest consideration of the relations between man and man, and between God and man. The relations between man and man are relations of equality. Necessity alone hath produced, from the opposition of private passions and interests, the idea of public utility, which is the foundation of human justice. The other are relations of dependence, between an imperfect creature and his Creator, the most perfect of beings, who has reserved to himself the sole right of being both lawgiver and judge; for he alone can, without injustice, be, at the same time, both one and the other. If he hath decreed eternal punishments for those who disobey his will, shall an insect dare to put himself in the place of divine justice, or pretend to punish for the Almighty, who is himself all sufficient, who cannot receive impressions of pleasure or pain, and who alone, of all other beings, acts without being acted upon? The degree of sin depends on the malignity of the heart, which is impenetrable to finite beings. How then can the degree of sin serve as a standard to determine the degree of crimes? If that were admitted, men may punish when God pardons, and pardon when God condemns; and thus act in opposition to the Supreme Being."

    Beccaria, Cesare, Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 7.

    <http://www.la.utexas.edu/research/poltheory/beccaria/delitti/delitti.c07.html> (28 January, 2007).

    PS. There are Christians on both sides of the capital punishment camp. This site is not attempting to render a judgment on this issue , but to simply discredit atheists' false assertions.
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    THE WOMEN'S RIGHT TO VOTE

    The early advocates of women's rights fell all along on the belief/unbelief continuum. Mills, the philosopher, and champion of women's rights, tended toward theism. Susan B. Anthony appears to have started as a Christian and at the end of her life appears to have moved toward an atheistic world view. Others were Deists, that is they believed in a Creator but rejected Christianity. Others were very committed Christians. Here is the evidence that major names who favored the vote for women believed in God.

    JOHN STUART MILLS (1806 - 1873)

    "Beyond attacking arguments concerning the essence of God, Mill undermines a variety of arguments for his existence including all a priori arguments. He concludes that the only legitimate proof of God is an a posteriori and probabilistic argument from the design of the universe – the traditional argument (stemming from Aristotle) that complex features of the world, like the eye, are unlikely to have arisen by chance, hence there must be a designer."

    Heydt, Colin, "John Stuart Mill: Overview," The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    <http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/m/milljs.htm#SH2h> (28 January, 2007).



    ELIZABETH CADY STANTON (1815-1902)

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the two founders of the American Women Suffragette Movement, together with Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was clearly not sympathetic to established Christian interpretations of scriptures relating to women, but she did believe in God as her address on women's rights indicates.

    "I believe in Christ—I believe that command Resist not evil to be divine. Vengeance is mine and I will repay saith the Lord— Let frail man, who cannot foresee the consequences of an action walk humbly with his God—loving his enemies, blessing those who curse him and always returning good for evil. "

    "Let woman live as she should, let her feel her accountability to her Maker— Let her know that her spirit is fitted for as high a sphere as man's and that her soul requires food as pure as refreshing as his—let her live first for God and she will not make imperfect man an object of reverence and idolatry... "
    "Address by Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Woman's Rights, September 1848." <http://ecssba.rutgers.edu/docs/ecswoman3.html> (28 January, 2007).



    LUCRETIA MOTT (1793 - 1880)

    "Religion often constituted the backbone of belief for early feminists, many of whom were Quakers like Lucretia Mott who, along with Stanton, organized Seneca Falls -- the first woman's rights convention in America."

    "Her family were Quakers, and she became a Quaker minister in 1821.... In 1848 she and another reformer, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, organized the first women's rights convention in the United States at Seneca Falls, New York. Out of this meeting came a series of resolutions demanding increased rights for women, including better educational and employment opportunities and the right to vote."

    "Lucretia Mott," Lucid Cafe. <http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96jan/mott.html> ((28 January, 2007).



    SARAH GRIMKE (1792 - 1873)

    Sarah Grimke was a Bible loving Quaker woman who was passionately dedicated to women's rights.

    "Sarah wrote bitterly that men were attempting to "drive women from almost every sphere of moral action" and called on women "to rise from that degradation and bondage to which the faculties of our minds have been prevented from expanding to their full growth and are sometimes wholly crushed."

    "Sarah Grimke," Spartacus Educational. <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASgrimkeS.htm> (28 January, 2007).



    "According to Gerda Lerner, "Seen in the light of twentieth-century feminist theory, her accomplishment is remarkable; she offered the best and most coherent Bible argument for woman's equality yet written by a woman;"

    "Sarah Grimké," Sunshine for Women. <http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/whm2001/grimke6.html> (28 January, 2007).


    JOSEPHINE BUTLER (1828-1906)

    "Strong religious convictions enabled the nineteenth-century feminist Josephine Butler to withstand the on-slaught of abuse that she received from those both inside and outside of the woman's movement. Other women's rights activists felt she was far too radical and her efforts would harm their attempts at extending educational and employment opportunities and fighting for legal and political rights for women Her opponents viewed her as a threat to the moral foundations of society itself. "


    "Butler's involvement in the sex trade began very simply: she wanted to "rescue fallen women" for Jesus. She would visit prisons and hospitals and take women into her home where she nursed the sick, gave the dying comfortable surroundings, and provided job skills and a job to the able-bodied. As her name became known to underclass women, they began to seek out her help, her understanding of the causes of prostitution and the life of women in the underclass increased, and her involvement in the reform of the sex trade deepened."

    "Josephine Butler," Sunshine for Women. <http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/whm2001/butler2.html> (28 January, 2007).


    "Josephine Butler was not only a vehement feminist but a passionate Christian; she once said "God and one woman make a majority". She figures in the Anglican calendar as worthy of commemoration, becoming in effect an Anglican saint. She is also represented in windows in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, and St. Olave's Church in the City of London."
    "Josephine Butler," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Butler> (28 January, 2007).



    KATHERINE BUSHNELL (1855 – 1946)

    Katherine C. Bushnell (1856-1946), was a doctor, evangelist and social reformer.

    "...Katherine began to realize “that woman’s plight was rooted in the fact that the Bible was seen to support the degradation and suppression of women. Her conclusion was that the Bible needed to be reinterpreted. . .”1 Her final battle, conducted on paper, God’s Word to Women, has basically been ignored by Bible scholars."

    Collins, Barbara, "Katharine Bushnell." <http://www.icwhp.org/bushnell.htm> (28 January, 2007).


    ENLIGHTENED FEMINISTS

    "Perhaps the worldview of the Deist best explains the religion of the enlightenment feminist. Deists sometimes referred to deity but only to give authority to their views of human reason and equality. Early Enlightenment feminist, if religious, viewed God as both distant and moral; God had “endowed” humans with reason and humanity was obligated to use reason for good. Since humans were responsible for others, action for good became a moral mandate. Early liberal feminists took responsibilities seriously. In a sense they forced the concept of equality into ethical theory. The concept of equality equated with doing good led to political action by liberal feminists. Each one of their demands involved issues of equality."

    Larson, Viola, "Early Feminism: Equality, Ethical Theory and Religion." Naming The Grace Web Site. <http://www.naminggrace.org/id64.htm> (28 January, 2007).



    WHO SPOKE AGAINST SLAVERY?

    JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791)

    John Wesley eloquently wrote against slavery and condemned it powerfully. His work "Thoughts Upon Slavery" published in 1774 is unequalled in its forceful condemnation of the slave trade.

    "If, therefore, you have any regard to justice, (to say nothing of mercy, nor the revealed law of God,) render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature. Let none serve you but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary choice. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion! Be gentle toward all men; and see that you invariably do unto every one as you would he should do unto you."
    John Wesley, "Thoughts Upon Slavery, 1774." <http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wesley/thoughtsuponslavery.stm> (29 January, 2007).

    WILLIAM WILBERFORCE

    "In 1787 Wilberforce was introduced to Thomas Clarkson and the growing group campaigning against the slave trade by Sir Charles Middleton and Lady Middleton, at their house in Teston, Kent, and was persuaded to become leader of the parliamentary campaign."

    "After months of planning, on 12 May 1789 he made his first major speech on the subject of abolition in the House of Commons, in which he reasoned that the trade was morally reprehensible and an issue of natural justice. Drawing on Clarkson’s evidence, he described in detail the appalling conditions in which slaves traveled from Africa in the middle passage, and argued that abolishing the trade would also bring an improvement to the conditions of existing slaves in the West Indies. He put forward twelve propositions for abolition, largely based upon Clarkson's Essay "On the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade," which had been printed in large numbers and widely circulated."

    "William Wilberforce," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce> (29 January, 2007).



    THOMAS CLARKSON (1760-1846)

    "After winning the prize, Clarkson experienced what he called a spiritual revelation from God as he traveled on horseback between Cambridge and London, having broken his journey at Wadesmill, near Ware, Hertfordshire: 'A thought came into my mind, he wrote, 'that if the contents of the Essay were true, it was time some person should see these calamities to their end' (Clarkson, History, vol. 1). It was this experience that 'ordered' him to devote his life to abolishing the trade."

    "Thomas Clarkson," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Clarkson> (31 January, 2007).
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    ANTHONY BENEZET (1713-1784)

    "Benezet came from a French family from Saint-Quentin. As a member of the Religious Society of Friends in Philadelphia, he worked to convince his Quaker brethren that slave-owning was not consistent with Christian doctrine. He believed that the British ban on slavery should be extended to the colonies (and later to the independent states in North America)."

    "Anthony Bezenet," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Benezet> (31 January, 2007).



    JAMES RAMSEY (1733–1789)

    "He strongly criticized the cruel treatment and punishment meted out to the slaves, and became more convinced of the need to improve their conditions. This led him into involvement in local government, but he was the target of much antagonism and personal attack from the planters, who resented his interference, because of his measures to ameliorate the conditions of the slaves. His letters to the bishop of London illustrate the attitudes of the American colonists in the late 18th century."

    "James Ramsey," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ramsay_%28abolitionist%29> (31 January, 2007).



    GRANVILLE SHARP (1735-1813)

    "It was through his efforts that bishops for the United States of America were consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1787. In the same year he was the means of founding a society for the abolition of slavery, and a settlement for emancipated slaves at Sierra Leone. Through this society, Granville came into contact with Thomas Peters, a former American slave that fought with the British during revolution. Sharp was instrumental in helping Peters receive a land grant in what is now Sierra Leone."

    "Granville Sharp," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granville_Sharp> (31 January, 2007).



    THE QUAKERS

    "The first parliamentary petition against the slave trade had been presented to the British Parliament by 300 Quakers, largely from the London area, in 1783. Following this initial step a small offshoot group from amongst the petitioning Quakers, sought to form a small but committed non-denominational group to lobby for greater Anglican and Parliamentary support."
    "Thomas Clarkson," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Clarkson> (31 January, 2007).


    ABORTION


    Legalized abortion has definitely been supported by many, if not most atheists, especially feminists who embrace atheism. However, it is important to note that some of the major mothers of Feminism strongly opposed it .

    "Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two of the Founding Mothers of feminism, strongly opposed abortion. Victoria Woodhull, the first female presidential candidate, shared their opposition."
    Pankhurst, Emmeline," Britannica Concise. <http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9374483/Emmeline-Pankhurst> (31 January, 2007).



    For more on the mothers of Feminism who opposed abortion, visit the following web site:

    <http://www.feministsforlife.org/history/foremoth.htm#vwoodhull> ( (28 January, 2007).
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    06 Mar '10 16:48
    The Judeo-Christian beliefs are hardly the only source of so-called morality. Moreover, the Christian churches have been fully on both sides of the morality fence; being progressive on the one hand, and obstructionist on the other. Both sides can cite numerous examples. So what?
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