A large Christian nativity scene on the Franklin County Courthouse lawn in Brookville, Ind., was removed the day after Christmas instead of staying up through at least mid-January, as has typically been the case for the past 50 years. The early removal came pursuant to a federal lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in late December.
The county had also added a disclaimer to the crèche for what appears to be the first time.
The ACLU of Indiana, which is representing FFRF and its courageous local plaintiffs, Steve Kristoff and Renana Gross, sued the county Dec. 16, four years after FFRF first complained on behalf of local residents about the annual violation. The life-sized nativity scene was once even erected at the foot of a flagpole, attempting to tie religion to patriotism. FFRF kept complaining, with the county moving the religious scene even closer to the courthouse entrance in 2011.
Plaintiffs are represented by ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Gavin Rose. FFRF Staff Attorneys Rebecca Markert and Sam Grover are co-counsel.
The Thomas More Society of Chicago, a Catholic group, is representing Franklin County, which agreed to remove the nativity promptly in an agreement overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
In response to the suit, the county adopted on Jan. 12 its first codified policy for erecting courthouse displays. The policy specifies that "a permit for use of the courthouse grounds will be made on a nondiscriminatory basis and will not be based on the religious or political content" of a display.
Peter Breen, Thomas More Society special counsel, said, "With the enactment of this ordinance, the allegations of the lawsuit brought by the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation are moot."
To that, FFRF had this to say: "Hold on just a minute, for Pete's sake."
Getting the county to adopt an official policy on displays is a victory, but it's not the only victory that FFRF hopes to achieve through its litigation. FFRF's claim that the county's continued, seasonal display of the nativity violated the rights of non-Christians remains a live issue in the case.
Litigation will continue on that issue in order to establish that the county violated the rights of its citizens and to better restrict what sort of involvement the county can have in endorsing displays in the future.
Moving forward will also allow FFRF to uncover just how much preferential treatment the county has given to the display and to depose Commissioner Tom Wilson, who ranted to a reporter last year: "If we don't start standing up for our rights, we're going to lose them. The atheists and the liberals are taking over our country. They are the ones demonstrating and doing everything, and we're the ones sitting back and doing nothing."
Wilson added, "Pretty soon, one morning we're going to wake up and our freedoms are going to be gone. We'll have a socialist government or a dictator telling us what to do."
Ever since FFRF's first complaint in 2010, locals have rallied by the nativity to support keeping Christian worship scenes at the seat of county government.
"We are not a Christian nation, Indiana is not a Christian state, and Franklin County is not a Christian county," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "Government needs to stay neutral and should not be turning Christians into insiders and the rest of us into outsiders."
The discovery phase of the suit is under way and should be completed by early April.
The case, No. 1:14-cv-02047-TWP-DML, is in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.
Robert Nordlander, 1932–2014
The Appleton Post-Crescent, a Wisconsin daily newspaper, called Robert Nordlander, who died at 82 on Dec. 11, 2014, "likely the most prolific letter writer in Post-Crescent history." In fact, wrote Larry Gallup in a reminiscence about Nordlander, the paper inaugurated a "one letter per month" policy in Bob's honor.
"With us, Nordlander's most frequent topic was his atheism, which put him at odds with many of his readers," Gallup added.
"We first got acquainted with Bob Nordlander as a result of his freethinking letters to the editor to The Capital Times in Madison in the 1970s," recalls Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. "Bob was one of our earliest members, joining FFRF before we went national in 1978, and was a regular at our earlier conventions held mainly in Wisconsin."
He was a board member (state representative) of FFRF for many years, and coordinator of FFRF's Atheist-Freethought Library for the Blind, devoting many hours of volunteer work reading books and issues of Freethought Today.
When the Internet came along, Bob took to it with a nonreligious passion, sending regular emails on religious and freethought topics to a large list of subscribers. "I will miss those daily nuggets in my inbox," says FFRF co-president Dan Barker.
He was born June 17, 1932, in Neenah, Wis., the only son of Swedish immigrants. He lived in the area all his life. His obituary said his only biological family are cousins living in Sweden. He earned a B.A. in history with minors in political science, Spanish and French at the University of Minnesota and taught English, Spanish, history and French at various schools. He also ran as a Democrat for the state Assembly and on the Socialist-Labor Party ticket for the U.S. Senate and lieutenant governor.
In a "Getting Acquainted" piece published in Freethought Today in March 1984, Bob, a Korean War veteran, noted he served "four inglorious years in the United States Air Force," where he wrote a history of the USAF flight Test School still in print. Bob was a great debunker of myths, including the myth that there are "no atheists in foxholes."
He wrote that his first memory of religion was going to church and seeing "a very angry man in the pulpit who really scared the hell out of me."
A memorial to celebrate his life was held Jan. 17 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton.
"He'll be missed by us at FFRF, and his strong network of friends and organizations," said Gaylor.
Harold K. Lonsdale 1932–2014
Harry Lonsdale, 82, a prominent Oregon scientist, politician and philanthropist, died of heart failure Nov. 11, 2014, at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio, Calif. He was an FFRF Lifetime Member who had given $100,000 to FFRF's building fund.
A wing of the new Freethought Hall addition is being named the "No Hell Below Us" Harry Lonsdale Wing.
"We were so very sorry to learn of Harry's death and had been in correspondence to obtain his portrait for the wall and feature him in our 'Meet a Member' section in Freethought Today," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. "We were so impressed with Harry's achievements, reported in numerous articles about his life appearing in many West Coast dailies."
Lonsdale was born in Westfield, N.J., the son of a Sicilian immigrant mother and a Welsh father, earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. from Penn State University. He served in the U.S. Air Force and was married three times and had two children with his first wife, Connie Kerr Lonsdale.
His company Bend Research, co-founded with Richard Baker, specialized in membranes and was bought out by a pharmaceutical firm in 1985. "He was a risk taker and entrepreneur. He left a secure career in Silicon Valley and came up to Bend and started a four-man research company, at risk, in 1975," said colleague Rod Ray, a former Bend Research CEO.
Lonsdale ran unsuccessfully three times as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate "[H]is candidacies had a big impact on Oregon politics in the 1990s," reported Jeff Mapes of The Oregonian. "And they turned Lonsdale into a determined champion of limiting the flow of big money into political campaigns."
"If you want democracy, work for campaign finance reform," Lonsdale said in a 2003 column in The Oregonian.
State Rep. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, credited Lonsdale for playing a major role in creating Oregon's "robust high-tech industry" while chairing Gov. Vic Atiyeh's Science Committee in the early 1980s. "They put together a plan that relied on the ingenuity of Oregon and an education system that supported that kind of innovation," Frederick wrote. "In fact, they were at least a decade ahead of their goals for the Silicon Forest."
Survivors include his daughter, Karen, and his son, Harold Jr.
FFRF is so grateful that this distinguished entrepreneur, activist and philanthropist rated FFRF and freethought high on his scale of causes.
“One of Georgia’s most charming cities” is how Swainsboro (pop. 7.600), which is between Atlanta, Augusta and Macon, bills itself. But its school district, Emanual County Schools, appears to have a most uncharming habit: inflicting daily prayer upon its captive audience of children.
“Jamie Doe,” a kindergartner at Swainsboro Primary School (motto: “Where Cubs Become Tigers!”) was singled out by the teacher after Jamie’s parents, “Jane and John Doe,” complained about daily classroom prayer. The Does pulled Jamie out of school by the end of the year.
Jamie’s first-grade sibling, “Jesse Doe,” was also subjected all semester long to pressure to pray. Jesse’s teacher said outright that Jesse’s mother was a bad person for not believing in God.
The parents are FFRF members who contacted FFRF for legal support shortly after the 2014-15 school year started. Letters from FFRF and complaints by the parents have not ended the violations. A lawsuit, as this goes to press, is being prepared for federal court.
The Establishment Clause violations were daily. Before lunch, Jamie’s teacher, Cel Thompson, asked students to bow their heads, fold their hands and pray, while leading the class in a “call and response” prayer: “God our Father, we give thanks, for our many blessings. Amen.”
In Jesse’s first-grade class, teacher Kaytrene Bright led students in this daily prayer: “God is great. Let us thank you for our food. Thank you for our daily prayer. Thank you. Amen.”
The parents contacted Principal Valorie Watkins in August 2014 to object to the prayers. Rather than stopping them, the teachers told the Doe children to leave their classrooms and sit in the hallway while the rest of the class prayed. Jesse reported that the teacher “used her mean voice” when instructing Jesse to wait in the hall. The teacher also unnecessarily singled Jesse out by telling the class that Jesse can’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance since it contains the words “under God,” although the parents had not discussed the pledge with the teacher.
When the Does renewed their objections a few days later, the principal said other parents who didn’t want their children to participate in prayer had been “OK” with the “solution” of leaving the room. The Does explained that was unacceptable, but daily prayers continued.
Jamie’s teacher next announced to the entire class that Jamie wasn’t allowed to pray to God, which resulted in Jamie being teased.
FFRF objected strongly in an Aug. 20 complaint letter, pointing to more than 65 years of Supreme Court precedent against religious devotions and proselytizing in public schools. Despite a promising reply from the district’s attorney, the school continued to organize Christian prayers. Eventually, the parents withdrew Jamie. Home schooling Jamie has substantially burdened Jane Doe, who has three younger children to supervise at home.
Pressure on Jesse escalated in December. Jesse’s science teacher encouraged Jesse to “make a good decision” regarding prayer in the classroom. Jesse’s physical education teacher likewise encouraged Jesse to begin praying. The teacher even held Jesse back from recess to talk about Bright’s views of God, explaining that God loves Jesse and made the world. The teacher indicated to Jesse that Jesse’s mother was a bad person for not believing in God. Around this time Jesse gave in and started participating in classroom prayers.
“It should not be necessary for FFRF to sue over such an obvious violation of specific Supreme Court decisions barring devotions from our public schools,” noted Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. “No child in our secular school system or their parents should be subjected to prayer or stigmatized when their parents speak up to defend the Establishment Clause.
But unfortunately, it appears a lawsuit will be the only way to protect the freedom of conscience of these young children.”
“If anyone needs a picture drawn on how destructive religion is in our public schools, this situation is a perfect example,” added Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president. “The fact that such abusive practices are continuing in our public schools 53 years after the first Supreme Court decision against school prayer shows how important FFRF’s legal work is.”
DAN BARKER and ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR are co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and co-hosts of Freethought Radio. A former minister and evangelist, Dan became a freethinker in 1983. His books, Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher To Atheist (1992) are published by the Foundation. His newest book, Life Driven Purpose: How an atheist finds meaning, was published by Pitchstone Press in 2015. His previous book, the autobiographical Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists, was published in 2008. A graduate of Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Religion, Dan now puts his knowledge of Christianity to effective freethought use. A professional pianist and composer, Dan performs freethought concerts and is featured in the Foundation's musical cassettes, "My Thoughts Are Free," "Reason's Greetings," "Dan Barker Salutes Freethought Then And Now," a 2-CD album "Friendly Neighborhood Atheist," and the CD "Beware of Dogma." He joined the Foundation staff in 1987 and served as public relations director. He was first elected co-president in November 2004.
Annie Laurie was also editor of Freethought Today from 1984 to 2009, when she became executive editor. The paper is published 10 times a year. Her book, Woe To The Women: The Bible Tells Me So, first published in 1981, is now in its 4th printing. In 1988, the Foundation published her book, Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children, the first book documenting widespread sexual abuse by clergy. Her 1997 book, Women Without Superstition: 'No Gods, No Masters'is the first collection of the writings of historic and contemporary women freethinkers. A 1980 graduate of the UW-Madison Journalism School, she was an award-winning student reporter and recipient of the Ken Purdy scholarship. After graduation, she founded, edited and published the Feminist Connection,a monthly advocacy newspaper, from 1980-1985. She joined the Foundation staff in 1985. She has been co-president since 2004. She co-founded the original FFRF with Anne Gaylor (see below) as a college student. Photo: Timothy Hughes
FFRF President emerita
ANNE NICOL GAYLOR is a founder and president emerita of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She served as executive director from 1978 to 2005, and is now working as a consultant to the Foundation. Born in rural Wisconsin, she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She owned and managed successful small businesses and was co-owner and editor of an award-winning suburban weekly newspaper. A feminist author, she has done substantial volunteer work for women's rights (including serving as volunteer director of the Women's Medical Fund). Under her leadership the Freedom From Religion Foundation has grown from its initial three Wisconsin members to a national group with representation in every state and Canada.
Director of Operations
LISA STRAND is director of operations of FFRF. She has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit (primarily association) management, including 15 years as executive director of the Wisconsin Library Association. She is married with a daughter, as well as three cats, a guinea pig and an untended garden that will someday be beautiful.
REBECCA S. MARKERT attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her B.A. in political science, international relations and German in 1998. After graduating from UW–Madison, Rebecca spent one year working as a legislative fellow at the German Parliament in Bonn, Germany. In the fall 1999, she returned to the United States and began working as a legislative correspondent and assistant to the chief of staff for United States Senator Russ Feingold in Washington, D.C. In 2002, she returned to Madison, Wisconsin, to work on Senator Feingold’s 2004 re-election campaign. After the campaign, Rebecca attended Roger Williams University School of Law and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. She joined the Foundation staff in October 2008.
Rebecca is the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first staff attorney and primarily works on Establishment Clause cases. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, Dane County Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.
PATRICK ELLIOTT, the Foundation's second staff attorney, hails from St. Paul, Minn. Patrick received a degree in legal studies and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. He attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 2009. While in school, Patrick took an interest in the First Amendment and constitutional law. He joined FFRF as a staff attorney in July 2010, after working part-time for the Foundation since February. Patrick is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western and Eastern Districts of Wisconsin.
ANDREW SEIDEL graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental science and magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School, where he was awarded the Haber J. McCarthy Award for excellence in environmental law. He studied human rights and international law at the University of Amsterdam and traveled the world on Semester at Sea. In May of 2011, Andrew completed his Master of Laws at Denver University Sturm College of Law with a 4.0 GPA and was awarded the Outstanding L.L.M. Award. He has written a book on International Human Rights Law and his essay on the role of religion in government and the founding of our nation placed second in the FFRF's 2010 graduate student essay contest. Andrew is a former Grand Canyon tour guide and accomplished nature photographer; his work has been displayed in galleries in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland. He joined the FFRF staff as a constitutional consultant in November 2011.
ELIZABETH CAVELL received her B.A in English from the University of Florida in 2005. After college, Elizabeth spent a year as a full-time volunteer in AmeriCorps*NCCC. She attended Tulane University Law School and received her Juris Doctor in 2009. After law school, she worked as a deputy public defender in southern Colorado. She joined the Foundation as a staff attorney in January 2013, after working for the Foundation part-time since September 2012.
SAM GROVER received his B.A. in philosophy and government from Wesleyan University in 2008. He first worked for FFRF in 2010 as a legal intern while attending Boston University School of Law. In 2011, his article on the religious exemptions in the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance mandate was published in the American Journal of Law and Medicine. After receiving his J.D. from Boston University in 2012, Sam worked as a law clerk for the Vermont Office of Legislative Council where he drafted legislation on health care, human services, and tax issues. He returned to work as a constitutional consultant for FFRF in the fall of 2013. Sam has written a paper on counterterrorism and the law that was published by the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma City and has traveled to southern Africa to work under Justice Unity Dow of Botswana’s High Court.
KATHERINE PAIGE graduated magna cum laude from Wichita State University in 2010 with a B.A. in History, Political Science, and French. She attended law school at the College of William & Mary where she received her Juris Doctor in 2014. Katherine became FFRF’s first Legal Fellow in September 2014, specializing in faith-based government funding.
MADELINE ZIEGLER graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2011 with a B.A. in English Literature and Political Science. She attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received her Juris Doctor in 2014. She has worked at FFRF since May 2012, starting as a legal intern/extern, and currently works as a legal publicist.
CALLAHAN MILLER graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin — Madison in 2014 with a B.A. in Sociology and Legal Studies and a certificate in Criminal Justice. She received a Distinction in the Major for Legal Studies and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Kappa Delta. For the majority of her time as an undergraduate, she was a leading member of UW’s ground-breaking Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics student organization. She joined the FFRF team as an official staff member in January of 2015 after having previously been an intern and intends on going to law school herself in a few years.
KATIE DANIEL is the outreach and donor relations manager at FFRF. She was born in California and has lived in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Missouri. She moved to Madison in 2005 to attend UW-Madison and graduated in 2009 with a BA in Gender & Women's Studies and a Certificate in LGBT Studies. She joined the foundation staff as a student clerical employee in September 2008 and started as the full-time bookkeeper in 2009. She loves baking for her coworkers and unlike many of the Foundation's staff members, Katie is religious and considers herself a practicing Wiivangelical.
BILL DUNN is the editor of Freethought Today. He has a degree in history and mass communications (journalism emphasis) from the University of South Dakota and has worked as a reporter, copy editor and editor in South Dakota and Wisconsin since 1980. Bill joined the Foundation staff in July 2009. He has two daughters, Kaitlin Marie and Jamie Lee.
LAURYN SEERING is the publicist & assistant webmaster. She was born in Wausau, Wis. and has also lived in Nagasaki, Japan. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2012 with her B.S. in Professional Communications and Emerging Media, concentrating in Technical Communication and International Studies. She also received a double minor in Journalism and English. Lauryn moved to Madison in January 2013 and enjoys reading about astrophysics, basking in the sun like a turtle and creating art at coffee shops. Lauryn is a practicing Pastafarian.
DAYNA LONG is an administrative assistant at FFRF. Originally from Illinois, she attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received a degree in English. She has been with FFRF since July 2013. She spends her free time volunteering for the Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for Women. She also enjoys reading, cooking, and admiring her beautiful cats.
CHARLOTTE STEIN is waiting to welcome you into FFRF’s new building as the organization’s front desk receptionist and administrative assistant. A lifelong dairy enthusiast and badger lover, Charlotte graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 with a BA in Political Science and French, and certificates in Global Cultures and European Studies. Before moving to Morocco to volunteer for the US Peace Corps in 2012, Charlotte embraced her atheism and began working at FFRF. Since returning from North Africa in 2014, tanned and multi-lingual, she has been writing, biking around Madison’s lakes, and consuming lots of fried food. She is no longer tan.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is delighted to announce the formation of a new FFRF Honorary Board of distinguished achievers who have made known their dissent from religion.
The FFRF Honorary Board includes Jerry Coyne, Robin Morgan, Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Ernie Harburg, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Christopher Hitchens, Susan Jacoby, Mike Newdow, Katha Pollitt, Steven Pinker, Ron Reagan, Oliver Sacks, M.D., Robert Sapolsky, Edward Sorel and Julia Sweeney.
“We are so pleased that these outstanding thinkers and freethinkers have agreed to publicly lend their endorsement to the Foundation, and its two purposes of promoting freethought and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause,” said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president.
- Jerry Coyne, Ph.D., professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, is author of the popular book 'Why Evolution is True' and the blog of the same name.
- Richard Dawkins, probably the world’s most famous contemporary atheist and a distinguished evolutionary biologist, is Oxford professor emeritus. In his blockbuster book, The God Delusion, Dawkins writes: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”
- Daniel C. Dennett is Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Tufts, and author of the bestselling book about religion, Breaking the Spell. In a newspaper article about his nonbelief, Dennett once wrote: “I’ve come to realize it’s time to sound the alarm.”
- Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments For the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction and a research associate in Harvard’s psychology department, is FFRF Freethought Heroine of 2011. Goldstein is a 1996 MacArthur Fellow (the “genius” award). She has taught at Barnard and in the Columbia MFA writing program and the Rutgers philosophy department. She’s been a visiting scholar at Brandeis and at Trinity College in Hartford.
- Ernie Harburg, a retired research scientist, is president of Yip Harburg Foundation and co-author of Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz? Ernie has dedicated his retirement to furthering the lyrics, music, memory and progressive views of his freethinking father, the lyricist Yip Harburg, author of classic songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and of Rhymes for the Irreverent, recently republished by FFRF.
- Jennifer Michael Hecht, poet, historian and author of the acclaimed Doubt: A History and The End of the Soul, told the FFRF 2009 convention audience: “If there is no god — and there isn't — then we [humans] made up morality. And I'm very impressed.”
- Susan Jacoby, bestselling author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, and program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City, told FFRF convention-goers in 2004: "[President] Kennedy had to speak about his religion because he was suspected of insufficient dedication to the Constitution's separation of church and state. Today's candidates are suspect if they display too much dedication to secular government."
- Robin Morgan, feminist pioneer, global activist, author of the groundbreaking "Sisterhood is Powerful" and more than 20 books, was formerly Ms. Magazine editor and consulting editor. She is the co-founder of the Feminist Women's Health Network and Women's Media Center and currently hosts "Women's Media Center Live" the radio "talk-show with a brain."
- Mike Newdow is working pro bono to challenge such violations as the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. He told the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments: “I am an atheist. I don't believe in God. And every school morning my child is asked to stand up, face that flag, put her hand over her heart, and say that her father is wrong.”
- Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard, is author of The Blank Slate: “I never outgrew my conversion to atheist at 13.”
- Katha Pollitt, “Subject to Debate” columnist for The Nation, author and poet, has spoken out regularly and energetically as a freethinker, in such columns as “Freedom From Religion, Sí!”
- Ron Reagan, media commentator, describes himself in a radio ad he taped for FFRF as: “Unabashed atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”
- Oliver Sacks, M.D., the compassionate neurologist and bestselling author, describes himself as “an old Jewish atheist.”
- Robert Sapolsky, a neurologist, Stanford professor and bestselling author, once suggested FFRF put up a sign at its conventions: “Welcome, hellbound atheists.”
- Edward Sorel, satiric cartoonist and irreverent illustrator who is a regular contributor to The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and whose caricatures have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, has been a Foundation member since the 1980s.
- Julia Sweeney, comedian and actress, is writer/performer of the play, “Letting Go of God”: “How dare the religious use the term 'born again.' That truly describes freethinkers who've thrown off the shackles of religion so much better!”
- Christopher Hitchens, the iconoclastic journalist, is author of the bestselling God Is Not Great: “Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.”