Ed Buckner -- Writings Selections

Background Information

Ed Buckner Ph. D. Educational Leadership (Educational Foundations), Georgia State University, 1983. Dissertation: Professional and Political Socialization: High School Science Teacher Attitudes on Curriculum Decisions, in the Context of the "Scientific" Creationism Campaign. At present, Ed Buckner is the Director of planning, research, and development (and grant-writer) for a public post-secondary technical institute. Ed Buckner's past positions included -- Researcher for a public school system, an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies, College of Public and Urban Affairs, Georgia State University. Taught research methods, statistics/computer use, and graduate statistical analysis courses--including bivariate and multivariate statistics. Responsible for managing and conducting wide variety of research and for analysis of data resulting from research projects. Served as a consultant on statistics, SPSSX computer programs and more.

Selected Publications: Co-editor, with son Michael E. Buckner, of Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church, now in its second edition; sold so far to freethinkers, secular humanists, and other supporters of religious liberty in 39 States, the District of Columbia, Australia, and Canada. "Ideas conservadoras y Trabjo Social" (original title: "An Empirical Analysis of the Attitudes of Social Workers in the United States"), Revista Trabajo Social, No. 55 (1988), pp. 52-57. With Howard Epstein; translated into Spanish by Jorge Naranjo Candia; Revista Trabajo Social is a Chilean social work journal. "Urban Schools: A New Era?," a review article, Urban Resources, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter 1985), pp. 51-53. "By Their ZIP Codes Shall Ye Know Them," in Beyond 1984--Proceedings: Seventh Annual Conference of the Southern Future Society (Ermel Stepp, Jr., ed.) Huntington Beach, West Virginia: Marshall University, 1985, pp. 83-85.

Professional Honors and Awards: Award for excellence in teaching, Georgia State University Foundation, 1980-1981 and 1983-1984. Elected to College of Public and Urban Affairs Executive Committee, 1983-1985. Elected as Senator for Urban Studies Department, Georgia State University Senate, 1985-1986.

Memberships and Offices: Regional Director of the Council for Secular Humanism (Alabama, Tennessee, Western GA, and Eastern SC); Vice President for Communications, Georgia Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State; Vice President for Internal Communication (and former President), Atlanta Freethought Society; Treasurer of the Georgia Council for Resource Development; member of the Georgia and American Civil Liberties Union; of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (Madison, WI); and of many local community and neighborhood groups.

Personal Note: Ed Buckner, happily married for over 30 years to Lois Diane Bright Buckner, his partner in everything that matters (and the best editor in our family). And are the proud parents of Michael E. Buckner; he and his wife, Julia Rachel, are freethought leader in their own rights. For any questions or comments, please email Ed Buckner.

Ed Buckner Collected Writings Selections

The Atlanta Freethought Society was invited to submit an essay for the "Other Voices" public forum in the Faith & Values section of the Saturday Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ed Buckner wrote the following piece which was published on July 5, 1997 under the heading "Religion not the only basis for morality."

Rights for Atheists? Why?

by Ed Buckner

Arguing politics is one thing; arguing religion is another. This is about politics (maybe I'll get a chance later to argue about religion). Some letter writers to "Faith and Values," like some religious believers everywhere, want to restrict the civil rights of freethinkers and atheists. They say "This is a Christian nation," or "Unless somebody believes in God, he cannot be trusted or moral," or "The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion!" or "'Separation of church and state' is not even in the Bill of Rights!"

This argument has been going on since at least the founding of these United States in 1787, with patriotic heroes like Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams supporting the idea that good Christians are a necessary foundation for good government. Those who believed that then, however, lost the argument. The Constitution could have included language invoking religion or God or declaring that this is a Christian nation--all earlier governing charters did claim power in the name of at least one god-but the framers created a "godless" Constitution instead. The ultimate power invoked was "We the people . . . ." The winners, with leaders like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams, included orthodox Christians, Unitarians and Deists, and maybe even an atheist or two. They did not set up (and had not tried to set up) an anti-Christian or an anti-religious government, but they knew that the only path to religious freedom for all is a neutral government. As Madison had noted, if the same evidence that convinces you that your religious preference is the right one does not happen to convince someone else, that is between that other person and God (if there is one). Governments cannot decide such things unless we give up religious freedom for everyone except one favored, politically powerful, group. And even if you are in the winning group now, your group could lose political power next year or at the next election.

The Constitution and First Amendment do not include the words "Separation of Church and State"-but the idea is there just as much as "freedom of religion" is (those words cannot be found there, either). This is a nation with many Christians, but it is not a Christian nation if by that you mean one with a pro-Christian government. Great Britain is a Christian nation in that sense, though with proportionally far fewer believing Christians. As Thomas Jefferson himself noted, there are moral atheists just as there are moral believers, so religion must not be the basis for morality. And if there is no freedom from religion for those that choose to have none, there cannot be any secure freedom of religion for anyone.

All of us tend to think that we are right when it comes to religion (including those of us who believe it is not possible to know or who conclude that all religion is pointless or worse). But religious truth is not subject to majority vote nor can it be determined by force or by political processes. People have to work it out for themselves and governments are fairest and work best if they leave it up to individuals. As Jefferson put it in 1782, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

More of Ed Buckner's writings and debates can be found at these links:

Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church by Ed and Michael Buckner by Ed and Michael Buckner

Ed Buckner's speech given to the Humanists of Georgia on June 22, 1997 and at the 1997 Lake Hypatia Independence Day Celebration.
Does the 1796-97 Treaty with Tripoli Matter to Church/State Separation?

Does Christianity or Atheism Make Better Sense? - by Ed Buckner

Footnotes to History and Other Reflections: Short Answers to Religious Claims and Questions - by Ed Buckner

It’s a free country, not a Christian nation - by Ed Buckner

The Holy Bible for Adults Only:

Queen Janeís Version by Douglas A. Rankin

a review by Ed Buckner

There are days and days of fun to be had by reading, or just skimming through, The Holy Bible for Adults Only: Queen Jane's Version by Douglas A. Rankin. Rankin, a long-time member of the Atlanta Freethought Society (we're proud to note), has devoted years of scholarly labor to producing this monumental work: a line-by-line, verse-by-verse parody of the entire Bible, Old Testament and New. When I first heard of this (before I'd actually seen any of it), I thought, "Damn-how could anyone sustain such an effort without creating something nearly as repetitious and boring as the original." I still cannot tell you exactly how, but I can tell that Rankin did it, and more. One key to the consistent interest and humor is that he used, as did the original authors, a rich variety of styles, voices, devices, and approaches. But the more basic reason is that he was not content to merely lampoon the "good book," though he does that far more devastatingly than any other parody I've read. It is clear that Rankin is a first-rate biblical and linguistic scholar, so his humor is much more deeply grounded-and therefore more satisfyingly funny-than most.

An example of Rankin's effective use of a device: the long, somewhat confusing book of Isaiah, in the Old Testament, is rendered by Rankin with bold print to indicate when "Isaiah's ongoing vision is interrupted from time to time by a light that truly illuminates rather than blinds. That 'other light' cools the glare that blinds as it shines through..." (p. 582). The vision-countering light is "the light of realism." Those cool words interrupt the words of Isaiah at their most pious, simplistic declarations to show what the priests of all ages have really had in mind to control their flocks.

The book is huge-1,152 pages, hardback, weighing in at slightly over five pounds-and impressive in every other respect. The icons scattered throughout are small, hilarious, often risqué drawings that lead the reader to passages of brutality, absurdity, boring repetition, obscenity, sexual deviance, and bizarreness-and of occasional beauty and wisdom, as well. The icons make casual browsing more entertaining and some kinds of biblical research much easier. For example, if a reader just wanted to read the many passages that describe homosexual behavior or about cruelty to women, there are icons that lead you just to such passages in the parody-and in the original. In fact, having the King James Version handy is wise, because you'll want to refer back to often to see if Rankin hasn't really gone too far (every time I did a comparison, it demonstrated that it was the authors of the KJV who were shocking and outrageous, not Rankin). He makes a plausible case, in the introduction, by the way, for believing that the legendary "Queen Jane" could really have existed, bearing a child for the gay James (Rankin had the jump on the right wing Christian zealots who have just recently "discovered" that King James was gay). Jane was passed over for a politically important marriage to a Danish princess.

Rankin has brilliantly fulfilled the charge he imagines the good Queen Jane ("Pretender to the Throne, and Offender of the Faith") would have issued, had she had the power to do so: "Write from the point of view of everything that is truly known and should be disclosed about the so-called 'bible.' Write as if a truth potion had been given to the scribes, misfits, lunatics, and committees of fanatics who were responsible for writing that garbage so that they had no choice but to write the truth, for a change."

This book has to be found on the bookshelf-and in the hands, being read and frequently referred to-of every freethinker who ever argues with some Christian who says, "Well, you just need to read the Bible, and you'll know the Truth." Douglas A. Rankin has read it, and produced a version of it that exceeds one of his implicit goals: in his introduction, he asks,

So how do you convert people from passionately believing impossible things that need to be ridiculed for them and bring them to their senses? Consider the words of Mark Twain in Mysterious Stranger: "Power, money, persuasion, supplication-these can lift a colossal humbug-push it a little-weaken it a little, century after century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."

Rankin's book reads as if the Monty Python troupe had decided to devote several seasons exclusively to biblical farce. For only $29.95 at any bookstore you can order this rag-maker and atom-blaster, published by Dallas Emporia Press (not, sad to say, by AFS). Better yet, come to the AFS meeting on 8 August 1999 and you can get an autographed one for only $20-but you do have to be present to win (mailing it would be very expensive, even at book rates). Rankin has advised us that it would help if you know you'll be buying a copy to email him at QueenJaneV@aol.com and let him know that. For more information, check out (the web-site for the book).

Bill Jager

Ed Buckner Collected Writings Selections