Vol. 21 No. 1 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
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[T]he Christian Right . . . do not even call upon their faith to certify their politics as much as they call for a country that certifies their faith. Fundamentalism really cannot help itself--it is absolutist and can compromise with nothing, not even democracy. It is not surprising that immediately after the Islamic fundamentalist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon two prominent Christian fundamentalists were reported to have accounted it a justifiable punishment by God for our secularism. . . .
In thus honoring the foreign killers of almost 3,000 Americans as agents of God's justice, they established their own consanguinity with the principle of righteous warfare in the name of all that is holy, and gave their pledge of allegiance to the theocratic ideal of government of whatever sacred text.
Author E. L. Doctorow
Reporting the Universe (Harvard)
I am an agnostic. I believe in Darwinism, that evolution is how humans came about.
Lee Kuan Yew, 80
Retired Singapore Prime Minister
The Straits Times, Sept. 14, 2003
[The pope] is a hate-figure and with good reason. . . . the catastrophic effect of the church's teaching on contraception [is] causing widespread death across Asia, Africa and Latin America. No one can compute how many people have died of AIDS as a result of Wojtyla's power, how many women have died in childbirth needlessly, how many children starved in families too large and poor to feed them.
Religious beliefs were at the root of genocides, mass migrations, ethnic cleansings and full-scale armed conflicts. Every era offered up martyrdoms, witch burnings and holy wars, not to mention clerical corruption and malfeasance.
The US is at one and the same time one of the most fiercely secular and aggressively religious countries in the western world. The nation's two most sacred texts are the constitution and the Bible. . . .
So while there is a constitutional, albeit contested, barrier between church and state, there is almost no distinction between church and politics.
At this point America's internal contradictions become an issue on the world stage: the nation that poses as the guardian of global secularity is itself dominated by strong fundamentalist instincts. . . . there is no arguing with faith. Fundamentalists deal with absolutes. Their eternal certainties make them formidable campaigners and awful negotiators--it is difficult to cut a bargain with divine truth.
Columnist Gary Younge
"God Help America," The Guardian
Aug. 25, 2003
I remarked that a long time ago someone said that in wartime, there are no atheists in foxholes. . . . I [heard] from scores of atheists, two of whom said they were in the military serving in Baghdad. . . . So to all of you who took offense, I can only say that none was intended and I regret a poor choice of words.
CBS reporter Bob Schieffer
Aug. 24, 2003
I wish I believed I'd see my parents again, see my wife again. But I know it's not going to happen.
Every American has a right to be an atheist, but rights without respect and recognition can be a lonely way to live. If there is a god, his glory is not diminished by doubt or embracing doubters. In a wild and bewildering world, it can take courage to be an atheist. Atheists do not want a dog-eat-dog world. They just don't believe that a supreme being has made it so or can make it gentler. They believe that people must strive to build that world themselves.
Not a scintilla of bravery is required for a candidate, whether Democratic or Republican, to take refuge in religion. But it would take genuine courage to stand up and tell voters that elected officials cannot and should not depend on divine instructions to reconcile the competing interests and passions of human beings.
Author Susan Jacoby
(Forthcoming) Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
New York Times, Jan. 8, 2004
Over the holidays, Vice President Dick Cheney's Christmas card symbolized all that troubles me about the way politicians treat faith--not as a source for spiritual improvement, but as a pedestal to strut upon. Mr. Cheney's card is dominated by a quotation of Benjamin Franklin: "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
It's hard not to see that as a boast that the U.S. has become the global superpower because God is on our side. And "empire" suggests Iraq: is Mr. Cheney contending that in the dispute over the latest gulf war, God was pulling for the White House and fulminating at Democrats and others in Beelzebub's camp?
Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof
"The God Gulf"
New York Times, Jan. 7, 2004
I myself don't believe He [God] exists, and I get exasperated at times with people who do. . .
All over the world, there are people who believe God has spoken to them personally. Some of them we treat like the psychotics they are and send to mental institutions. Others we give important titles to, like "pope," and treat their pronouncements with grave deference. Meanwhile, the people of some third world countries are convinced that God has been chatting with guys like Osama Bin Laden and told them that the ways of the western countries are evil. We don't give any credence at all to these purported missives from above. Instead, we try to bomb the shit out of the messengers.
Columnist Karen Selick
Canadian Lawyer, Nov./Dec. 2003
[If all children were raised without religion] It would be paradise on earth. What I hope for is a world ruled by enlightened rationality, which does not mean something dull, but something of high artistic value.
Scientist Richard Dawkins
Belief.net interview, Dec. 2003
[American pianist Earl] Wild claims to be an atheist largely for musical reasons, having at age ten asked his mother how there could be a God when the organist at their local church in Pittsburgh was so lousy.
"Master Class Wilding" by Leo Carey
The New Yorker, Aug. 19, 2003
I don't think Shakespeare believed in heaven or hell any more than I do. I don't believe in an afterlife.
If you don't know how to help the state's economy, and you're the ones in charge of doing that, you better create a diversion so the public doesn't realize you don't have a clue. Enter god, gays and guns. . . . A good day of Bible thumping and safety lock clicking is good legislative theater for sure. But we're calling your bluff.
Wis. State Sen. Mark Pocan
Capital Times, Sept. 23, 2003
I don't have anything against organized religion per se. We all need something in our lives. I personally just have not accepted that belief. But I'm one of the few.
5-time Tour de France winner
Time, Sept. 29, 2003
I tell you something, in case anyone wonders, not a single out-of-body experience, no long corridors of light, I was an atheist when it started and I've remained one. People used to say to me, "You wait until something really bad happens, you'll start praying," but I didn't and I can't.
British activist Claire Rayner
(after 3 weeks spent unconscious in ICU)
The Guardian, Sept. 12, 2003
Some people forget, this country wasn't founded by original settlers for freedom of religion as much as freedom from the kind of religion others wanted to ram down their throats.
Columnist Eugene Kane
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Aug. 30, 2003
I grew up in Kansas during the shadow of the Cold War, when religion and patriotism were conflated and we attended daylong revivals of religion and daylong lectures on patriotism. . . . these days, the child-silencing winds of my childhood are starting to blow at gale force again.
It is the nature of religion to go too far. That is its history--in the distant past and just yesterday as well. All over the world, people are hideously butchered in the name of God, which is to say, condemned to death on account of an accident of birth. (This, after all, is how most of us get our religious convictions.)
Columnist Richard Cohen
Washington Post, Sept. 2, 2003
January/February 2004 Excerpts