I’m guessing the Rockingham County school board’s decision to end the practice of opening meetings with a prayer was a tough call politically. But it was one of two sure ways to avoid mixing religious faith with government. The other was to open meetings with a moment of silence.
As we’ve written before, God will hear you. Isn’t that the point? Nobody else has to. Unless the idea is to pander for votes rather than a sincere expression of faith, one’s thoughtful and respectful silence can speak volumes.
Allen Johnson, editorial page editor, urging Guilford County, N.C., to forgo prayer
Greensboro News & Record of Greensboro. 5-19-13
These classes too often promote religious values that aren’t appropriate academically. Public funds are being used to promote some religious views over others.
Mark Chancey, religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University, author of a report on how Texas public schools’ elective bible classes violate the Constitution
Bloomberg News, 5-29-13
I feel like an idiot now. I only sent money.
Atheist author/entertainer Ricky Gervais, tweet responding to @MTVNews: Beyonce, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma after the devastating tornado.
I — I’m actually an atheist. We are here and, you know, I don’t blame anybody for thanking the lord.
Rebecca Vitsmun, Moore, Okla., holding her son by their tornado-leveled home, answering CNN host Wolf Blitzer’s question “I guess you’ve got to thank the lord, right?”
“The Situation Room,” 5-21-13
Moore Public Schools adamantly denies that any teacher was fired for praying with their students. We find this accusation offensive and insulting. During this extremely difficult time, when we are trying to heal our community, we are dealing with angry and threatening messages from individuals who have chosen to believe this fabricated story without checking on its accuracy.
Superintendent Susan Susie Pierce, addressing an online rumor
Having a visible disability is like shark bait for ignorant people lacking scruples. I swear, the mere sight of crutches is like blood in the water. Having lived with a disability all my life, I’ve learned to accustom myself to the inevitable stares or occasional questions, but the days I dread are the ones in which I’ve accidentally crossed paths with someone who’s decided that I am the perfect opportunity to exemplify God’s power to heal. On the spot. I’ve been taught to handle it with grace with a polite smile and nod and move about business as usual. However, there’s no manners guidebook for actually being prayed on. I don’t mean for. I mean on.
Blog post entitled “Please Don’t Pray with Me (In Airports)” by Megan, 22, a Duke University graduate who has epidermolysis bullosa, a connective tissue disease
I had a very special occasion to have dinner with Governor Walker and his lovely wife, Tonette, about a year ago and I can testify that they are strong conservative Christians with “Alabama Values” and not ashamed of it.
Evan Heckman, Alabama GOP, press release detailing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Aug. 23 speech in Montgomery
Ingersoll was the perfect humanist. He was very engaging as a speaker because he used humor and he was outrageous in that he would speak against religion with such fervor. All of that was very titillating, and people would go to hear him whether they agreed with him or not. He did not respect religion, but he respected people who were religious.
Steve Lowe, founder of the annual Robert Ingersoll Oratory Contest, “Meet Robert Ingersoll, America’s most famous forgotten atheist”
Washington Post, 5-29-13
My sister told me that my mom asked her when I was going to baptize my kids. My sister just told her, “Mom, she doesn’t believe in that, why would she?”
Lilliam Alfaro, a Latina atheist from Baltimore
In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, religious sentiment is strong in Ghana, Nigeria, Armenia and Fiji, where more than nine in 10 people say they’re religious. WIN/Gallup notes that religiosity is highest among the poor and, to a lesser extent, among the less educated, which certainly correlates among the most religious countries.
Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, poll analysis
Washington Post, 5-23-13
The food was predictably terrible, the bed was unforgiving, and the only thing he was allowed to read was the bible. To stay sane he sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” because it reminded him of his wife.
News story about Richard Ross, photographer and professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara, who spent 24 hours in solitary confinement in a juvenile detention center as part of his Juvenile-In-Justice project
He’s not my brother. In my mind, he died a long time ago. I still can’t believe David got away with all this. People today have to think twice when they see a Roman collar.
Linda Cervizzi, 63, one of the siblings trying to remove the name of their brother — a defrocked Catholic priest accused of being part of a Massachusetts child sex ring — from the family’s cemetery headstone
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 6-5-13
A lot of people still think atheists lack morals and have to be shunned or silenced. So we thought it would be a good idea to tell the world that we are humans like them and the only difference would be that we believe in science and not a supernatural being.
Dolly Koshy, on her participation in “Hug an Atheist Day” on June 7 across India
Facebook and Twitter made it easy to find people who debate and are interested in secular values. We nonbelievers have meetings and groups in a lot of Saudi cities. Although it’s really hard to notice them, if you go into them, then you will be shocked by the numbers and elements of society represented.
“Jabir,” a Saudi Arabian atheist in his 20s, noting that open atheism there can result in death
They did nothing to help that child. That’s why it’s murder.
Philadelphia prosecutor Joanne Pescatore, successfully arguing against dismissal of charges against Herbert and Catherine Schaible, who lost a second child after failing to seek medical help because of religious beliefs
I feel that religion, adopted purely, is ultimately representative of blindly making someone else’s beliefs your own.
Edward Snowden, U.S. spying whistleblower, from a 2003 online comment when he joined the Army and listed Buddhist, saying “agnostic is strangely absent” from the enlistment form
New York Times, 6-16-13
I wish we kept meetings of our government bodies separate from our ritual expression of faith and piety. The desire to blend them is really nothing other than a desire to signal an official endorsement of the superiority of God belief over atheistic and nontheistic belief systems.
Columnist Eric Zorn, “Let us not pray”
Chicago Tribune, 4-24-13
I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, a Christian “reparative” group whose purpose was to “convert” gays to heterosexuality, announcing that Exodus is disbanding and that he no longer believes homosexuality can be “cured”
New York Times, 6-21-13
How merciful of God to shut down Exodus, which under Alan Chambers’ leadership had completely veered off the course of its mission.
Andrew Comiskey, board member of Restored Hope Network, which will continue “reparative therapty to cure homosexuality”
New York Times, 6-21-13
We must not forget that we are a secular state, and we will follow this path, no matter how certain groups try to unravel this system, both for reasons of ethnicity and religion. Those who oppose this idea are free to choose from plenty of other countries to live in.
Alexander Zhilkin, governor of the Astrakhan region of Russia, on a ban of “explicitly religious” clothes and symbols in public schools and universities starting Sept. 1
RIA Novosti, 6-22-13