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Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No. 5 June/July 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard

If the museum was to go down that road, then perhaps they should bring in the stork theory of where babies come from.
Biologist Richard Dawkins, on Northern Ireland minister calls on Ulster Museum to promote creationism
The [U.K.] Guardian, 5-28-10

Among black folks, if you’re a criminal who shows up at a service on whatever Sabbath you subscribe to, you’re just a fallen human who is worthy of love and redemption. But if you’re a moral and decent human who doesn’t believe in a supernatural force, you’ll soon find that your kind is most unwelcome.
Atheist writer Jamila Bey
The Root, 5-19-10

I like them a lot. They speak for themselves without going out of the way to insult nonreligious people. It just speaks truth to history. So how long do you think it’ll take before conservative Christians respond to denounce these memorable words?
“Friendly Atheist” Hemant Mehta, on FFRF’s “America is not a Christian nation” bus ads
friendlyatheist.com, 5-6-10

Heaven is constantly shifting shape because it is a history of subconscious human longings. Show me your heaven, and I’ll show you what’s lacking in your life.
Journalist Johann Hari, column titled “Heaven: A fool’s paradise”
The [U.K.] Independent, 5-3-10

This case should have been a no-brainer for the court. Too bad five justices think with their bibles, not their law books.
Tommi Avicolli-Mecca, on the Mojave cross court ruling
San Francisco Chronicle, 5-6-10

[FFRF’s] work has borne fruit. Four recent polls show that 82% to 88% percent of Americans claim to be Christian. Yet the numerically insignificant FFRF has effectively put Christianity and all other religions in America on the defensive. Anyone participating in prayer day will now have to justify it, and in so doing, acknowledge the atheists’ legal challenge.
Op-ed titled “If only Christians had such verve,” by Dave Berg, until recently a co-producer on “The Tonight Show”
The Washington Times, 5-5-10

Devil’s Brew and the Danish Atheist Society have entered into an unholy alliance, and the result is Gudeløs (Godless), an ale brewed entirely without superstition. Godless is an imperial stout with burnt and sweetish impressions, together with notes of licorice. To exercise social responsibility, Devil’s Brew donates one Danish Crown to the Danish Atheist Society for each bottle sold.
Danish brewery Bryggeriet Djævlebryg
bottle label

Favorite thing about being an atheist: My wife is Jewish, and when it’s Passover, we’ll have a house full of people eating roofing materials for a week. I keep telling them, “Come over to the lapsed-Presbyterian side. We can eat anything.”
Humorist Dave Barry
New York Times Magazine, 5-2-10

Today we see in a really terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the church does not come from the enemies outside, but is born from the sin in the church. The church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn on the one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice.
Pope Benedict, speaking in Lisbon, Portgual
New York Times, 5-12-10

I am a Roman Catholic and am sick and tired of all the nasty press our poor pope goes through. Our media acts so self-righteous while it creates the atmosphere of anything goes as long as it feels good. They cry that the church did nothing to keep us safe from predatory priests. Why doesn’t the media shut up and sit down and see how they have contributed to the problem. Pushing the gay lifestyle hasn’t helped either. I am talking lifestyle, not the people who are gay.
Sue Beal, Colorado Springs, Colo., letter to the editor
The [Colorado Springs] Gazette 5-15-10

Every time the pope throws a crumb at this horrific scandal, the media gobble it up, as if we should all be thrilled whenever the pope deigns to take another baby step toward acknowledging the crimes of his church.
Bill Randle, New York City, on Benedict’s statement
New York Times, 5-12-10

We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls. If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is, how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?
Archbishop Dadeus Grings, Archdiocese of Porto Alegre, Brazil
O Globo newspaper, 5-5-10

It seems a quick answer — “Kick him out of the church.” Well, they’re going to be in the neighborhoods. Then there’ll be no controls whatsoever.
Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director, U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Children and Young People, on the effectiveness of defrocking priests
Chicago Sun-Times, 5-7-10

I understand very well that a woman who’s been raped is dealing with trauma and that she needs to be helped. But she needs to do so with respect for the being that is in her womb. It is not responsible for what happened. It’s the rapist who is responsible. But there’s already a victim. Do we need to have another one?
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, on how rape victims commit “moral crime” by having abortions
The Canadian Press, 5-18-10

First of all, it must be noted that sexuality is not limited to the genital dimension, and thus the emotional life is much vaster than the sexual life, although the latter is of obvious importance.
Father Luc Crepy, rector of the Seminary of Orleans, France, contending that celibacy and sexuality go hand in hand
Catholic News Agency, 6-1-10


Evolution, and science in general, will ultimately flourish or die on its scientific merits, not because of any political strategy. Good science is an invaluable tool in humanity’s progress and survival, and it cannot be ignored or suppressed for long. The public may turn against this or that theory in the short run but will eventually have to accept evolution, just as it had to accept the Copernican heliocentric system.
It is strange that the phrase “respect for religion” has come to mean that religious beliefs should be exempt from the close scrutiny that other beliefs are subjected to. Such an attitude infantilizes religious believers, suggesting that their views cannot be defended and can be preserved only by silencing those who disagree.
Mano Singham, author of God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom
Chronicle of Higher Education, 5-13-10

The radical, secular, militant atheists are feeling empowered right now. . . . They are pulling out all the stops.
Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defense Fund
WorldNetDaily, 5-6-10

The guy who is praying to Muhammad’s God is not praying to my God. By participating in such a service, I would be offering approval to Muhammad’s God as equal to my God.
Rev. Gregory Johnson, Utah Prayer Day coordinator and president of Standing Together, a group of 90 evangelical churches
Salt Lake Tribune, 5-6-10
I don’t believe Muhammad can lead anyone to God, but salvation is through Christ alone.
Rev. Franklin Graham, talking to reporters on the National Day of Prayer
Washington Post, 5-7-10

Wearing a trademark Stetson, western shirt and tie, Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots and, of course, spurs, poet J.D. Siebert spoke of the cowboy’s “long legacy of Christian values,” adding that the cowboy’s lifestyle is much as Jesus Christ lived 2,000 years ago.
National Day of Prayer story
Antelope Valley (Calif.) Press, 5-7-10

I demand to be excommunicated because I do not believe women are second-class citizens. I demand to be excommunicated because your missionaries are informing impoverished citizens of third-world countries that birth control is a sin when it is in fact the single most important thing they could do to gain some small amount of control over their economic situation and health. I demand to be excommunicated because your church has become a hate group as virulent as any this world has ever seen, one that is unnaturally obsessed with the sex lives of good men and women across the planet. I demand to be excommunicated because I do not condone child rape or the concealment of child rape.
Paul Constant, The Stranger books editor, letter to Bishop Richard Malone, Diocese of Portland, Maine
The Stranger, 4-6-10

OK: I shouldn’t have used “atheists in foxholes,” even as a referent. My bad.
Chris Hayes, The Nation magazine, apologizing for comment on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”
twitter.com, 6-2-10

I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home in the 1950s and ’60s. I was named Christine Christensen, played the baby Jesus in a nativity scene and won every Sunday school contest. At the age of 5, I believed that it was my responsibility to tell everyone I met that it was their responsibility to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior or they would spend eternity in hell. . . . It took decades for me to hack up the poisonous tablets [Ten Commandments] I had been force-fed, and to come through fierce anger to agnosticism, to true faith in a higher power who resides in me.
Christine Kois, Madison, Wis., letter to the editor
Vanity Fair, June 2010

Is your life flawed and painful? Are you guilt-ridden and terrified of the world’s swarm of demons and daggers? Of course you are, sinner. Here, have a giant, unknowable deity. Give to it all your faith, hope, belief, money, angst, sexual shame. Believe in it wholly and without doubt, to the point where you lose a sense of yourself and your true divine source, forever and ever, amen.
Columnist Mark Morford, “Placebo effect beats God, Prozac”
San Francisco Chronicle, 4-28-10

It’s a shame that so many people are lacking in any kind of moral fiber that they cling to fundamentalist religions that prey on their piety and paranoia. This country has become a breeding ground for a cult masking as religion that promotes hatred and ignorance. I can feel sorry for a person who has to hide his or her homosexuality because of intolerant attitudes and stupid, adolescent rules like “don’t ask, don’t tell.” However, it almost seems like it’s a prerequisite for leaders in religious-right organizations to have controversial sexual proclivities that they keep in the proverbial “closet” so they can preach against them. It’s scary that these fundamentalist religious views are growing faster than any other religions and have destructive tentacles reaching around the world.
Carole Dunn, Ocean Springs, Miss., comment on “A Heaven-Sent Rent Boy”
New York Times, 5-16-10

The Rev. George Rekers, this mastiff of masculinity, is co-founder with Dr. James Dobson of the Family Research Council, and he’s on the board of The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which is dedicated to turning gay people straight. So you’ll never guess who this alpha dog recently took on a 10-day, all-expense-paid trip to Europe. Unless — you guess “gay male prostitute.”
Stephen Colbert
“The Colbert Report,” 5-6-10

Our founding fathers understood that the best way to protect religious liberty in America is to keep government out of matters of faith. But this [Texas] state board appears hostile to teaching students about the importance of keeping religion and state separate, a principle long supported in my own Baptist tradition and in other faiths.
Pastor Roger Paynter, First Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
Associated Baptist Press, 5-12-10

They ask me all the time, “What is your favorite this? What is your favorite that?” And one time, “What is your favorite word?” And I said, my favorite word? That is really easy. My favorite word is The Word, is The Word. And that is everything. It says it all for us. And you know the biblical reference, you know the Gospel reference of The Word.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, addressing the Catholic Community Conference, Washington, D.C.
Christian News Service, 6-1-10

Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm toward a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
President Barack Obama, Oval Office speech
whitehouse.gov, 6-15-10

John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote the Federalist Papers to explain each and every provision of the Constitution to a population that was overwhelmingly Christian and convince them to vote for it. If they could have pointed to biblical sources for those provisions, that would have been a very powerful argument in favor of ratification. Yet not once is the bible mentioned anywhere in those 85 essays. And not once, according to the notes of those in attendance, was the bible ever referenced at the constitutional convention in Philadelphia to justify a concept or provision.
Ed Brayton, president, Michigan Citizens for Science
Huffington Post, 5-14-10

While it’s true that the words “separation of church and state” are not in the First Amendment, the principle of separation is at the very heart of the establishment clause. By barring Congress from enacting any law that would have anything to do with an establishment of religion, the Founders clearly intended to keep the federal government, at least, out of the religion business. If that isn’t “separation,” what is?
Charles Haynes, Religious Freedom Education Project director
First Amendment Center, 5-23-10

I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the bible and their belief in it. I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country. All this I pray in the name of my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
Texas Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar’s prayer to open an official meeting
Texas Freedom Network, 5-21-10

Let’s side aside the political and historical content of Dunbar’s prayer, which is of course highly debatable in its own right. What I find more outrageous is her decision to smuggle that content into the form of a prayer that others in attendance were required to listen to silently, heads bowed, as if in agreement, with no dissent allowed. She was not using the prayer to talk to God, which ought to be its purpose; she was using it to tell others what God would say to them if He was there.
Personally, I find it highly offensive to watch people place their own political viewpoints into the mouth of God, in effect turning God into their personal sock puppet.
Columnist Jay Bookman, on Cynthia Dunbar’s prayer
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5-23-10

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