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Overheard

We don't do God.
-- "Avowed atheist" Alastair Campbell
Tony Blair's director of communication
News Telegraph, [UK] May 5, 2003
The European Union is utterly godless. Let's keep it that way.
--Columnist Joan Smith
The Independent (UK), Jan. 23, 2003
It doesn't matter to me: two, four, 10. As long as I'm doing God's work, it doesn't matter how many people I execute.
--Saudi Arabian executioner Mohammed Saad-Al Beshi
Detroit Free Press, June 6, 2003
It is Islam versus democracy. It is Allah versus Satan. It is Muslims versus unbelievers. . . . You can go to India and if you see a Hindu walking down the road you are allowed to kill him and take his money. 
--Muslim cleric Abdullah el-Faisal
Convicted of soliciting murder
The Guardian, Feb. 25, 2003
People who believe they have God in their pocket and know what God wants for them have proven time and again that they're capable of doing anything because it's not their will but God's will being carried out. You see this most obviously in a suicide bomber--someone who is convinced he or she knows what God wants, and can end up doing the most horrific things to innocent people. 
--Religion Prof. Charles Kimball
Wake Forest University
Beliefnet.com, May 6, 2003
Presidents and rogues have always invoked the Deity when heading into battle, to galvanize their people, demonize the enemy and excuse violence.
--Editorial writer Gord Barthos
Toronto Star, Jan. 9, 2003
With Scalia's complicity, atheists and agnostics find themselves among the most maligned groups in our country.
--Rev. Jeffrey G. Jones, UU Minister
UU Fellowship, Fredericksburg, Virg.
Freelance Star, Jan. 31, 2003

To hear people the week after 9/11 constantly talking up the need for more faith and the importuning of our God was, to me, the very definition of being "part of the problem."
--Author Bill Maher
When You Ride Alone You Ride with bin Laden
(Submitted by Catherine Fahringer)
Although there is no Bible on Capitol Hill written in the blood of George Bush, we are obliged to accept the fact that Bush is more religious than Saddam: of the two presidents, he is in, in this respect, the more psychologically primitive. . . . Unbelievably, born-again doctrine insists that Israel must be blindly supported, not because it is the only semi-democracy in the crescent, but because it is due to host the second coming.
--Author Martin Amis
The Guardian, March 4, 2003
Why do these bishops [who lay roadblocks for investigators] still serve, despite their damnable failures and despite the damage they have done to the church's moral credibility? Because the Holy See allows them to. Accountability is virtually nonexistent.
--Red Dreher, Catholic National Review senior writer
Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2003
The reluctance to believe that women have been abused by those in spiritual positions is baffling, given the long history in all sorts of circles--literary, legal and spiritual--to document the link between religious fervor and sexual misbehavior.
--Columnist Jan Jarboe Russell
San Antonio Express-News
Jan. 19, 2003
Bush's proposal [to allot federal housing money to churches for building projects] is impossible to enforce, subsidizes religious organizations (a term open to definition) that already skate by tax-free, discriminates among churches, and robs public institutions of funding that could go toward alleviating the critical shortage of affordable housing.
--Editor Lisa Sorg
San Antonio Current
Feb. 5, 2003
From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.
--Albert Einstein
Line expunged from 1945 letter in Banesh Hoffmann bio
The California Aggie, Jan. 15, 2003
I realized I was God when I was praying suddenly and realized I was talking to myself.
--Peter O'Toole
Parade Magazine
April 27, 2003

[Writing the nonfiction book Under the Banner of Heaven due in July, about a notorious 1984 double murder by Mormon brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, is] my attempt to understand religious passion and the terrible things people do in the name of God.
--Author Jon Krakauer
Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 2003
Of all deceivers who have plagued mankind, none are [sic] so deeply ruinous to human happiness as those impostors who pretend to lead by a light above nature. Science has never killed or persecuted a single person for doubting or denying its teachings, and most of these teachings have been true; but religion has murdered millions for doubting or denying her dogmas, and most of these dogmas have been false.
--Headstone of sworn atheist George Spencer
d. 1908, Lyndonville, Vermont
Newindpress.com (India), May 20, 2003
Many religious fundamentalists see dying coral reefs, melting ice caps and other environmental destruction not as an urgent call to action, but as God's will. Within the religious right worldview, the wreck of the Earth can be seen as good news!
--Glenn Scherer, "Religious Wrong"
E Magazine, May/June 2003

We ourselves as citizens have to build the republic of heaven.
--Atheist and children's author Philip Pullman
The Guardian
June 3, 2002
I don't think there's anybody sitting in the sky watching you. You're on your own. All you have is other people around you, and how you treat them. I actually think that not having a focus on God would make life better, because there would be more of an imperative to be nice to each other. There would be no more brandname wars over stuff, and pointless arguments over east side/west side/go-fight-win.
--Andy Richter, former co-host
Late Night with Conan O'Brien
The Onion AV Club, Oct. 9, 2002


[Is there a God?] No. . . . That's a very important and necessary thing to learn.
--"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" 
creator Joss Whedon
The Onion AV Club, Oct. 9, 2002
Is there anyone in the world more lonely than a child who has been abused at Maryville [Catholic] Academy? Could you turn to the "house parents" in your cottage? A girl who was gang-raped at Maryville tried that. Would you feel comfortable turning to the Rev. John Smyth, who has run Maryville for decades? He says "there were no problems there." The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, perhaps? No, wait. They probably put you there in the first place. When the abuse is at Maryville, [Cook County public guardian Patrick] Murphy rushes to tell the world how wonderful the place is and how the real victim is poor Father Smyth.
--Richard Wexler, executive director National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
Chicago Sun Times, Dec. 20, 2002
In your heart of hearts, you know, and the court likely knows, that deleting "under God" from the pledge is the right answer in a nation that is supposed to respect those who believe in no God or believe in other higher beings with other names. 
--Supreme Court correspondent Tony Mauro
American Lawyer Media & Legal Times
USA Today, May 5, 2003
[Equating evolution and creationism is] educational debauchery. These children are being deliberately and wantonly misled.
--Biologist Richard Dawkins
The Guardian, April 29, 2003

The rhetoric coming out of the White House and the G.O.P. these days is in fact of the anti-ecumenical variety associated with hard-core evangelicals who purport to have a finished, proprietary version of divine truth. Mr. Bush has invoked the evangelical war cry, arguing that religion is under attack at a time when it is actually flourishing as never before. Even more troubling is the Bush administration's battle to create "faith-based" initiatives, which could potentially open a direct line of funding to church-related social programs--while allowing those organizations to proselytize with federal dollars.
--Columnist Brent Staples
New York Times, April 27, 2003
Soul is not even that Crackerjack prize that God and Satan scuffle over after the worms have all licked our bones. That's why, when we ponder--as sooner or later each of must--exactly what we ought to be doing about our soul, religion is the wrong, if conventional, place to turn. Religion is little more than a transaction in which troubled people trade their souls for temporary and wholly illusionary psychological comfort--the old give-it-up-in-order-to-save-it routine. Religions lead us to believe that the soul is the ultimate family jewel and that in return for our mindless obedience, they can secure it for us in their vaults, or at least insure it against fire and theft. They are mistaken.
--Character Stubblefield
Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins
(Submitted by Elsa Kramer)
America is a very religious, almost puritanical country. In Canada, secularism is triumphant, and to talk noncynically, nonironically about religion is strange.
--French Canadian writer Yann Martel
New York Times, March 26, 2003
He thinks he is serving some higher power, but this is religious terrorism. Say Grace and pass the ammunition.
--Prosecutor Joe Marusak
Re: Dr. Slepian's murderer James Kopp
Reuters, March 17, 2003
We've [Democrats] got to prove we're as God-fearing and churchgoing as everyone else.
--U.S. Sen. John Kerry
(Vogue magazine profile)
Boston Globe, March 3, 2003
Religion of every kind involves the promise that the misery and futility of existence can be overcome or even transfigured. One might suppose that the possession of such a magnificent formula, combined with the tremendous assurance of a benevolent God, would make a person happy. But such appears not to be the case: unease and insecurity and rage seem to keep up with blissful certainty, and even to outpace it.
--Christopher Hitchens
"Holy Writ," The Atlantic, April 2003
Two crucial issues are at stake in deliberations about President Bush's faith-based initiative. One is separation of church and state. The other is separation of powers.
If President Bush has his way, both principles will be set aside to the nation's detriment. . . .
--Waco Tribune-Herald editorial
April 1, 2003

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