Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No.1 January February Combined Issue 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard

The idea that Chris­t­­ians are victimized by members of other religions or by committed secularists and atheists in this country is simply ludicrous. In­deed, what all opinion polls show is that, in spite of the growing numbers of the “un­churched” in America, prejudice against atheists is much stronger than against members of any religious group.
Author Susan Jacoby
The Washington Post, 1-11-10

Telling pious lies to trusting children is a form of abuse, plain and simple. If quacks and bunco artists can be convicted of fraud for selling worthless cures, why not clergy for making their living off unsupported claims of miracle cures and the efficacy of prayer?
Daniel Dennett, Tufts University professor of philosophy
The Washington Post, 1-12-10

Popular religion is a coping mechanism for the anxieties of a dysfunctional social and economic environment. . . . When you adopt progressive policy reforms, in the long run, religion is bound to be road kill.
Researcher Gregory S. Paul
Evolutionary Psychology Journal, 11-24-09

The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it’s certainly not relevant to public office.

Cecil Bothwell, an atheist newly elected to the Asheville (N.C.) City Council despite his state’s ban on atheists running for public office
Associated Press, 12-11-09
 
My father was a Baptist minister. I’m a Christian man. I have problems with people who don’t believe in God.
H.K. Edgerton of Asheville, mulling a suit to challenge Bothwell’s election
Associated Press, 12-11-09

I also want to welcome, for the first time, those who don’t profess a faith but who do love our city.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, welcoming New York City Atheists to his interfaith breakfast
New York Times, 1-7-10

It’s historically false to say that the Founding Fathers intended to create a Christian republic. I don’t think this idea should be taught in schools.
Edward Countryman, Southern Meth­odist University history professor
Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, 1-11-10

“Heaven,” a Talking Heads song once pointed out, is “a place where nothing ever happens.”
A.O. Scott, reviewing the film “The Lovely Bones”
New York Times, 12-11-09
People who reject the idea of a God, who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm, have always been with us. . . . And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists — Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth — because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels interview
WANE-TV, Fort Wayne, Ind., 12-24-09

And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.” True story. And so, the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. . . . They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God.
Rev. Pat Robertson, on the Haiti earthquake
Christian Broadcasting Network, 1-13-10

It never ceases to amaze that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that could be so utterly stupid, but it, like clockwork, happens with some regularity.
Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, on Robertson’s comments
whitehouse.gov, 1-14-10


Which came first? The slaughter or the “excuse” for the slaughter? Maybe that is religion’s function: to give meaning to our relentless, mindless slaughter of one another. We can’t be killing for no reason! . . . Yes, we are at war. Forever. With our own ignorance. Religion, by any other name.
Columnist Chris Jepson
Winter Park (Fla.) Observer, 1-6-10

Of one thing you can be absolutely certain: Whenever self-righteous Christ­ians make the news, it’s going to be . . . embarrassing. Sad. Sickening. Dis­in­genuous. A little dangerous. A lot piti­a­ble.
Columnist Mark Morford
San Francisco Chronicle, 1-8-10

God: This multipurpose tool has allowed billions to soothe their mortal fears while excusing a wide variety of unconscionable actions such as war and homophobia.
Man’s Greatest Inventions
The Onion, 12-17-09

The Worst Ideas of the Decade: The prosperity gospel.
Columnist Cathleen Falsani
The Washington Post, 12-21-09

Throwback of the Year: Bishop Robert Morlino. By now, we’ve come to expect Madison’s bishop to be a fount of small-mindedness, like providing cover for a school [School of the Americas] whose graduates have raped and killed nuns and priests, or blaming sexual misconduct by clergy on public acceptance of birth control. This year he fired a popular church worker in Beloit, allegedly for supporting gender equality. He installed a claque of right-wing priests in Sauk City who ban brides from wearing sleeveless gowns and quiz young boys about masturbation. He abruptly closed a social services center on Madison’s south side, which others then rallied to reopen. And he wants to keep church workers from getting mandated coverage for contraception in their health care plans. Talk about doing unto others!
Bill Lueders, news editor
Isthmus, 12-24-09

Being Python, there were about 30 people being crucified but only three ladders. So, if anyone wanted to relieve himself between takes, you got, “Over here quickly, please. I’ve got to get down!”
Eric Idle of Monty Py­thon, on the filming of “Life of Brian” in 1979
The Telegraph, 11-30-09

People sometimes tell me they’ll pray for me. I just respond, “I’ll think for you.”
Baylor University senior Oscar Bole­man, on being an atheist at a Baptist college
Baylor Lariat, 11-20-09

Christianity has long been the Microsoft of religions — gathering up existing traditions and rebranding them under its own banner. Either Catholic League President Bill Donohue doesn’t know of or is ignoring the Roman Saturnalia, which existed long before the birth of Christ, as well as the hugely-celebrated-in-its-time Dec. 25 birthday of the Persian sun god Mithra.
David Higgins, letter to the editor
Los Angeles Times, 12-12-09

If everyone approached this holiday as wise men, more rationally and  graciously, we’d all be happier. So, from me and mine to you and yours, Reason’s Greetings!
Jerry Moore, opinions editor
Downers Grove (Ill.) Reporter, 12-22-09

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
Presidential candidate John F. Ken­nedy, Sept. 12, 1960, Greater Houston Ministerial Association
National Public Radio, 12-5-07
 
We’ll train the trainers by giving larger faith-based partners like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services and secular nonprofits like Public/Private Ventures the support they need to help other groups build and run effective programs. Every house of worship that wants to run an effective program and that’s willing to abide by our constitution, from the largest mega-churches and synagogues to the smallest storefront churches and mosques, can and will have access to the information and support they need to run that program.
Presidential candidate Barack Obama, July 1, 2008, East Side Community Ministry, Zanesville, Ohio
mybarackobama.com, 7-1-08

The truth is that male religious leaders have had, and still have, an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. . . . At their most repugnant, the belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo. It also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair and equal access to education, health care, employment and influence within their own communities.
Former President Jimmy Carter, Par­liament of the World’s Religions
The Carter Center, 12-3-09

There is of course plenty of fodder, in both the Koran and the bible, for those who seek a theology of discrimination. The New Testament quotes St. Paul saying that women “must be silent.” Deuteronomy declares that if a woman does not bleed on her wedding night, “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” An Orthodox Jewish prayer thanks God, “who hast not made me a woman.” The Koran stipulates that a woman shall inherit less than a man, and that a woman’s testimony counts for half a man’s.
Columnist Nicholas Kristof
New York Times, 1-9-10

IAF members are writing to object to prayers that begin each legislative day. We object, not because some of our legislators want to pray, but because our elected representatives choose to make prayer official state business.
Randy Henderson, Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers president
WHO-TV.com, 1-12-10

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