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Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No. 8 October 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society.
Pope Benedict, after being welcomed to the U.K. by Queen Elizabeth
BBC News, 9-16-10
[Editor’s note: Adolf Hitler was a Roman Catholic who was never excommunicated. Nazi soldiers wore the words “God with us” on their belt buckles.]

So you heard it here first, people. According to the pope, the Nazis wished to eradicate God from society and were “atheist extremists.” Those presumably would be the Nazis run by one A. Hitler, who in his book Mein Kampf said: “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
Tom Chivers, Telegraph strategic events editor
Daily Telegraph, 9-16-10

In criminally shielding child-raping priests from justice, you have placed the welfare of your church ahead of your victims. Go home to your tinpot Mussolini-concocted principality and don’t come back.
Richard Dawkins, speaking at a protest at 10 Downing Street
The Australian, 9-16-10

I was always aware that he would look at me in a certain way, finding excuses to talk to me. I was terrified and tried to make sure we were never alone. Then one night he appeared at my bedroom door. Before I knew what was happening, he was tearing off my nightdress and raping me. I was paralyzed with fear and just managed to whisper to him over and over again: “Please stop.” Downstairs, my spinster aunts were playing cards and drinking whisky.
Sue Cox, alleging that after she was raped at age 13 by a Catholic priest in 1961, her mother told her to pray for him
The [U.K.] Guardian, 5-29-10

When you arrive at Heathrow [Airport], you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country.
German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who was scheduled to be part of the pope’s entourage but canceled after the remark above, blaming a gout attack
Focus magazine, 9-15-10

I will be keeping as far away as possible because the whole thing is nonsense.
Rev. Ian Paisley, Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, on the pope’s visit
BBC News, 9-17-10

How dare you use the word humiliation to describe what you and the church are going through? Hope and pray, and thank God that you will never know the abject humiliation of children who were raped by monsters in the employ of your church. That is true humiliation.
Singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor, “Open Letter to the Pope”
Huffington Post, 9-20-10

An apology is what a schoolboy does when he kicks a football through a window. What we need is for the pope to release all the files on predator priests.
“Recovered Catholic” and abuse victim Sue Cox, 63, Gaydon, England, on Benedict’s apology
The Australian, 9-16-10

Man hit by car at Church & State
News story headline from Rockford, Ill.
wrex.com, 9-28-10

My wife and I were driving home from the OB/GYN, as she is pregnant with our first child. On the way home, I mentioned that somebody had made a website that offers a “pet rescue” for pets left behind in The Rapture. We had a laugh, and some light discussion. She jested, “But what about babies? Aren’t all babies atheist? Somebody should start a baby rescue site.”
Justin, on the founding of Rapture Orphan Rescue in Texas
BeliefNet, 9-9-10

In some surveys, upwards of half of Canadians, 25 years and younger, are not biting this [guarantee of eternal life] carrot. Times are a-changin’ and nonbelief is going viral amongst this generation. To paraphrase an old ad slogan: One out of two young Canadians recommend it.
Kevin Smith, Centre for Inquiry board member
Ottawa Citizen, 8-8-20

Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” but he said nothing about water balloons.
Randall Bourquin, on the balloon toss at “Stone A Heathen Day” held by the University of Georgia Atheists
redandblack.com, 9-1-10

It’s just a vine. If the kudzu is the second coming, you’d think he could pick a less annoying form.
Joseph W. Allen, on “Christ in the kudzu?” in Sylva, N.C.
ABC News, 8-23-10

[T]hey will scream and yell at you and tell you that God is banned from public schools. When you calmly explain to them that not only is God still in schools, that there are several student groups on campuses all around the United States devoted to Christian causes, that there are prayers around the flagpoles in the mornings before school, or that most schools recognize a moment of silence where students can pray if they so choose to, they either completely ignore what you have just said or call you a liar and keep declaring their stance.
Blogger Michael Hendricks
McCook [Neb.] Daily Gazette, 8-25-10

I drive by lots of churches and virtually every one of them has a message board on it that says something like “Jesus is Lord and Savior.” That’s fine. That’s their belief and that’s what they want to say. That does not offend me. So, I really don’t understand why religious people get so offended by somebody that says “We don’t believe the same thing that you believe.”
Life Member Perry Mitchell, Atlanta, Ga., on FFRF’s billboards in Atlanta
WXIA-TV Atlanta, 9-8-10

It’s not the people who don’t believe in God that worry me. It’s some of the people who do. Fundamentalism is the enemy worldwide, no matter what the strain.
Rev. Robin Meyers, Mayflower Congregational Church, on complaints against “Don’t believe in God?” billboards in Oklahoma City
Associated Press, 9-11-10

God is too often a convenient stalking-horse for human selfishness. . . . If there is anything to be done, so unjust, so despicable, so wicked that human reason revolts at it, there is always some smug hypocrite to exclaim, “It is the will of God.”
Charles W. Chesnutt, The House Behind the Cedars, novel published in 1900
(submitted by Sabrina Gaylor)

Thank you for coming. Pat’s a f---ing champion and he always will be. Just make no mistake, he’d want me to say this. He’s not with God. He’s f---ing dead. He’s not religious, so thanks for your thoughts, but he’s f---ing dead.
Cpl. Pat Tillman’s youngest brother Rich, speaking at Pat’s 2004 memorial service in the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
“The Tillman Story,” new documentary film

Part of the freedom of religion guaranteed in our Constitution should be the caveat that part of that freedom should be freedom from religion. No religion, not Kennedy’s Catholicism nor Beck’s Mormonism, should be the law of the land. People must be able to practice their religion — be they Jew, Muslim, Protestant or Jehovah’s Witness — without government interference. The opposite must be just as true — the government should function without religious interference.
Kendall P. Stanley, Petoskey [Mich.] News Review editor emeritus
Petoskey News Review, 9-13-10

For you to say of Nazism that it was the implementation of the work of Charles Darwin is a filthy slander, undeserving of you and an insult to this audience.
Christopher Hitchens, debating David Berlinski in Birmingham, Ala.
UAB Kaleidoscope, 9-13-10

The human imagination is all we need to hold in awe. Live in optimism without fear of judgment and death. There is enough purpose and meaning in life, love and leaving a good legacy. Oppose the danger of religious zealotry with the liberating belief that life on Earth is precious because this here and now is all there is, and our destiny is in our own hands.
Polly Toynbee, British Humanist Association president
The [U.K.] Guardian, 9-14-10

I don’t have any idea of who or what God is.
Primatologist Jane Goodall, answering whether she believes in God
Reader’s Digest, September 2010

[Chaplain Moran] trusts God to keep him safe. And I’m here just in case that doesn’t work out.
Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Philip Chute, a “full-blown atheist”
Wall Street Journal, 9-4-10

He’s familiar with the Christian doctrine, but he chooses not to believe it. That’s what I find puzzling.
U.S. Navy Chaplain Terry Moran, referring to Philip Chute, his military bodyguard
Wall Street Journal, 9-4-10

I taught atheism alongside the arguments and evidence for and against agnosticism, Christianity, Judaism, Zen Buddhism and the other major religions. When all evidence was compared, atheism was always the clear winner.
Retired philosophy professor Larimore Nicholl
Colorado Springs Independent, 8-12-10

If Larimore Nicholl, God forbid, ever finds himself trapped in a burning building or some other such predicament, I bet he’d be praying his atheist ass off.
Bill Schaffner, online comment
Colorado Springs Independent, 8-19-10

One wonders if Mr. Schaffner ever finds himself trapped in a burning building, or some such other predicament, will he get down on his knees or search for an exit along with the rest of us? His comment overlooks the reality that his God treats him, in such a situation, no differently than the rest of us, however much he may hope otherwise. Religion only offers the as-yet-unproven notion that the faithful will pass from the burning building into heaven, not that it will lead to any preferable route through the exit door back to life amongst us atheists, no matter how much he prays his ass off.
Bruce Budy, online comment
Colorado Springs Independent, 8-19-10

[A]s president of the United States, I’m also somebody who deeply believes that part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith. . . . That this is a country that is still predominantly Christian, but we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own.
President Barack Obama, Albuquerque, N.M., backyard chat
Washington Post, 9-28-10

No major American political party, given the religiosity of so many voters, is ever going to come close to fulfilling my ideal of respect for our secular Constitution. But I do know which party, increasingly dominated by its most anti-rational members, stands for everything I reject, from the basic idea that the founders intended to establish a “Christian nation” to the right-wing effort to impose its religious values on everyone else.
Columnist Susan Jacoby, “Every secular vote must be counted in this election”
Washington Post, 9-29-10

I wouldn’t have called her an atheist. She was an agnostic. She basically gave us all the good books — the bible, the Hindu Upanishads and the Buddhist scripture, the Tao Te Ching — and wanted us to recognize that everyone has something beautiful to contribute.
Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama’s half-sister, asked if their mother was an atheist
New York Times, 1-20-08

Politically, everyone is with it, but theologically, when [Glenn Beck] says the country should turn back to God, the question is: Which God? How much of this is turning to God? How much is religious revival and how much is a snake oil medicine show?
Tom Tradup, vice president, Salem Radio Network, which operates more than 2,000 mostly Christian stations
Washington Post, 8-31-10

Rick’s a good man, and I wish him well, but I think basing a campaign for the presidency on religion is probably not the best idea.
Jim Roddey, Allegheny County GOP chairman, on former Sen. Rick Santorum’s presidential aspirations
WPXI-TV Pittsburgh, 9-9-10

I am: a free-thinking dork with an awesome taste in music. I believe in: myself. I want to be: my own person.
Kelsey Zurschmiede, 16, Floyds Knobs, Ind.
Louisville Courier-Journal, 8-31-10

It’s the 55-mph rule of the Mormon Church. It’s on the books, but no one enforces it.
Jewish genealogist Gary Mokotoff, on a pledge to take Holocaust victims off the LDS proxy baptism list
Salt Lake Tribune, 9-2-10

This is just the start of many more lawsuits about this topic. A lot of people now think that it’s just not consistent for us to be a nation that has no established religion for the government to be in any way taking sides in the debate. It’s a battle about what kind of country we are, and it will get more intense as people object to these traditions that have been in place for a long time.
Charles Haynes, Religious Freedom Education Project director, on FFRF’s National Day of Prayer suit
Austin American-Statesman, 9-4-10

The purpose of my nose ring, is, basically, it makes me feel whole. I was abused for years when I was younger, and I have really low self-esteem, and it kind of helps me look at myself in a better way.
Ninth-grader Ariana Iacono, a member of the Church of Body Modification who was suspended for violating the school dress code in Clayton, N.C.
WTDV-TV, 9-10-10

I welcome it. Through the entire record of American history, we find that it is the South that is the final clearinghouse of racist and irrational thought in the country. In short, it is the final holdout with regard to thoughts and ideologies that seek to smash humanity and crush freethought. It is a courageous venture by the organization and one that has been long in coming.
Jeremy Styron, “Stirring Up the Bible Belt,” on FFRF’s Atlanta billboards
blogcritics.org, 9-13-10

Believers want to control their countries and politicize religion as a powerful political and military tool. Religion is a formidable motivator, and the attempt is to bond with nationalism, another mythology, as an organizing element. There are many historical antecedents for this in both Islam and Christianity that are similar to the ones being pursued now.
Bob Katrin, Southern Pines, S.C., letter to the editor
The Pilot, 9-17-10
 
People who are waiting for that are going to be disappointed, because I don’t think he’s going to die. I expect him to be back on our panel, if not this season then next. People wish the fear that drives them their whole life would now drive him, because he’s got cancer. But he’s not a fearful guy, so it’s not going to happen.
Bill Maher, on whether Christopher Hitchens will have a deathbed conversion
Hollywood Reporter, 9-13-10

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