Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No. 4 May 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard

The Cold War has ended; Now the threat comes from fundamentalists who would like to exclude all those from this country who don’t believe in their Christian God.
Donna Silver (FFRF’er), letter to editor
Wisconsin State Journal 4-26-10

Friday’s intriguing people: No. 1 Annie Laurie Gaylor
CNN Blog, 4-16-10

Judge Crabb may have blown her chance of ever getting a Supreme Court nomination, but her decision is fair, logical and, as far as this Christian is concerned, spiritually astute. The Freedom from Religion Foundation was correct to file suit against an institutional expression of American civil religion that marginalizes millions of Americans because they don’t pray.
. . . Do we really need Uncle Sam, Big Brother, the president or any of the other state-appointed gods to prod us into praying?
What if there wasn’t an annual National Day of Prayer — would Americans miss it? How many people have anything but the dimmest awareness of it?
Columnist Tony Norman
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4-23-10

The very idea of a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, and this has been confirmed by Judge Crabb’s landmark ruling in the case brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation on April 15. Therefore not only should Franklin Graham be disinvited, so should everybody else. Unfortunately, Mr. Graham was in fact disinvited for uttering what may well be the only sensible thing he ever said, namely that Islam is “a very evil and wicked religion.”
Richard Dawkins column
Washington Post, 4-28-10

U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled, quite rightly in my view, that a “National Day of Prayer” serves no secular purpose and unconstitutionally harnesses the power of the state to call on citizens to engage in the religious ritual of prayer. This has, predictably, uncorked yet another volcano of rage from the right.
Science writer Clay Farris Naff
Huffington Post, 4-20-10

I can think of no stronger example of government pushing religion on its citizens, willing and unwilling, than having the commander-in-chief urge us all to pray.
Columnist Bonnie Erbe, “The case against a national day of prayer”
Scripps-Howard News, 4-28-10

I found it both troubling and dangerous that so many zealous believers in any religion want to legislate their particular understanding of faith and God for everyone else. We don’t need to look far to see the horrific and devastating results of a theocracy form of government.
Rev. Dr. Janis J. Kinens, Advent Lutheran Church, Cedarburg, Wis., approving Judge Crabb’s ruling
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 4-16-10
 

If the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, then the Constitution itself is unconstitutional.
Matthew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, Lynchburg, Va.
CNS News.com, 4-16-10

There is no dividing line there and I believe the church really should affect the state.
Pastor Larry Keith, Word of Faith Church, Knoxville, Tenn.
6 News, 4-16-10

As he did last year, President Obama intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer.
White House “Tweet” about an hour after National Day of Prayer ruling                                          4-15-10

We must appeal this case. . . . To do this, we’re going to need your help. First of all, we need your prayers. We need your participation. And we need your contributions.
Alan Sears, CEO, Alliance Defense Fund, video released April 15 against decision at national Day of Prayer Web site. (The ADF’s annual budget is over $32 million.)

It’s a sad day in America when an atheist in Wisconsin can undermine this tradition for millions of others.
Michael Calhoun, National Day of Prayer Task Force
New York Times, 4-24-10

We’re an office full of patriots.
John Borschein, executive director, National Day of Prayer Task Force
Associated Press, 4-24-10

Prayer is the foundation of the Midwest.
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer
Associated Press, 4-24-10

This is a concerted effort by a small but determined number of people who have tried to prohibit all references to the Creator in the public square, whether it be the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the simple act of corporate prayer.
Shirley Dobson, chairwoman, National Day of Prayer Task Force
Colorado Springs Gazette, 4-16-10

We call on Congress to start the impeachment proceedings for Barbara Crabb, as she violated of her sacred oath of “administering justice . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Statement, 4-16-10

I think it is very likely that this case ends up in the Supreme Court . . . but it is going to be a close case.
Jay Sekulow, Center for Law & Justice
4-16-10

[The ruling] missed the opportunity to acknowledge our nation’s identity, which was founded on our dependence on God.
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4-16-10

This is an egregious and revealing decision [showing] the brooding hostility toward religion that exists at some levels of federal, state and local government in this country.
Richard Land, president, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Baptist Press, 4-16-10

What brings us together today is a misguided court decision which threatens the longstanding tradition of this country. I urge the Obama administration to appeal this decision and to dedicate the best and brightest minds of the Justice Department to this case.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., Congressional Prayer Caucus press conference condemning ruling
4-20-10

In addition to joining my colleagues at the press conference today, I am an original co-sponsor of H.Res. 1273, which affirms the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer, and, H.Res. 1279, which calls for an appeal of the ruling that found the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional.
Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Va., Congressional Prayer Caucus press conference condemning ruling
4-20-10

Last week the Justice Department said it will challenge Crabb’s ruling. Bravo for the Justice Department and President Barack Obama, who was the principal defendant in the case brought by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Wisconsin State Journal editorial
4-24-10

It’s hard to say which is more outrageous — the ruling itself or the fact that someone mounted a court challenge against the observance.
Tampa Tribune editorial
4-24-10

While the National Day of Prayer Task Force will be able to promote a national day of prayer on its own, government acknowledgment of that day is in jeopardy if this opinion is allowed to stand.
National Day of Prayer Task Force, which develops theme and scripture verse for an annual proclamation
Baptist Press, 4-16-10

It [the National Day of Prayer] is based on the Christian faith; it’s very much based on the Christian faith.
Kim Trobee, NDP Task Force, debating Annie Laurie Gaylor
“Joy Behar Show,” CNN, 4-26-10

PRAY FOR OUR MINERS
Sign outside Massey Energy’s Montcoal, W. Va., mine after a methane explosion trapped 29 miners underground
Associated Press, 4-5-10
 
We did not receive the miracle that we prayed for. So this journey has ended and now the healing will start.
Gov. Joe Manchin, on the discovery that 29 men died in the Montcoal mine
Associated Press, 4-10-10

Dear Lord: This year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor.
E-mail to teachers union members from Joseph Coppola, Bergen County [N.J.] Education Association president
WCBS-TV, 4-11-10
 
Some people have this crazy notion, and they haven’t read the same Constitution I have. It wasn’t freedom from religion. It was freedom of religion.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, on funding a program to have church members mentor public school students
[Note: Neugebauer yelled “baby killer” at Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., during the House debate on health care reform.]
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 4-10-10

The way things are going, we’re not going to have any Protestants left in government.
Oklahoma state Rep. Todd Russ, supporting a bill to let public schools teach about the bible
Tulsa World, 4-7-10
 
From God comes the courage not to be intimidated by petty gossip.
Pope Benedict, Palm Sunday sermon
The Guardian, 3-28-10

The recent tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few priests, this time in Ireland, Germany and a rerun of an old story from Wisconsin, has knocked us to our knees once again.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Palm Sunday sermon
NBCNewYork.com, 3-29-10

With so much invasion of eroticism, sometimes it’s not easy to stay celibate or to respect children.
Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, defending child-molesting clergy
Reuters, 4-16-10

I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration. You have acted well, and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.
Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, letter to French Bishop Pierre Pican, convicted of failing to report serial child rapist Rev. René Bissey to police
Washington Post, 4-21-10
If Christ can rise from the dead, then he can help us overcome this crisis.
Monsignor Francis Mannion, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Holladay, Utah, on the clergy abuse crisis
Salt Lake Tribune, 4-9-10

Just this month, Rabbi Baruch Lebovits was found guilty on eight counts of sexually abusing a Brooklyn boy. Yet the [New York] Times, which has run several stories on the decades-old cases in Ireland and Germany, never reported it. And none of it merits the kind of attention given to priests. Catholics aren’t fooled.
Bill Donohue, Catholic League president, column titled “Criticism of Catholic Church is unfair”
CNN, 3-19-10

Anything can come out of [possessed persons’] mouths — finger-length pieces of iron, but also rose petals.
Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, chief Vatican exorcist, on demonic possession
La Repubblica, 3-10-10

Hasbro is treating it as if it’s just a game. It’s not Monopoly. It really is a dangerous spiritual game. No one should be messing with Ouija boards, especially Christians who should know better. They are not toys. They are not safe; they are what they say they are, a portal to talk to “spirits” that you really don’t want to deal with.
Stephen Phelan, Human Life International, objecting to Hasbro’s new hot-pink Ouija board
Fox News, 2-6-10

There is something to these pedophilia abuses — just a few, thank God.
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, archbishop of Santiago, Chile
Associated Press, 4-6-10

Can anyone really think that the Catholic hierarchy’s deeply rooted, centuries-old patterns of self-serving secrecy and deceit have suddenly been reversed and that heinous crimes once routinely hidden are now routinely revealed?
David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
Washington Post, 3-24-10

Since leaving my religion, I have discovered an amazing world full of wonderful literature, art and people that I would have never let myself experience before. Instead of looking to the Christian god — is he chastising me, refining me or testing me? — I now hold myself responsible for the decisions that I make, whether good or bad.
Ex-fundamentalist Barbara Schmidt
Contra Costa (Calif.) Times, 2-28-10

Jesus, who, if you look really closely at those old photographs from the bible, is clearly wearing a U.S. flag pin on his robes to go along with his friendly, competely legal sidearm. God bless America.
Mark Morford, column titled “Dear Texas: Please shut up. Sincerely, History”
San Francisco Chronicle, 3-17-10

The atheist knows there is prayer before the meeting so they should stay out of the room and give the others time to have an opening prayer. The Jewish people could bow their heads in prayer also to God and pray their prayer quietly in their hearts or just stay out of the room with the atheists. Don’t let a few people rule over the others that do give thanks.
Faye Griffin, letter to the editor on council prayer
Lakeland [Fla.] Ledger, 3-22-10

I have an idea. Suppose Ms. Griffin and all who wish to join her stay outside to give thanks before going inside for a civil meeting in which all Americans are welcome.
E. Brent Price, letter to the editor answering Griffin
Lakeland Ledger, 4-5-10

Tiger, did you mean Bootyism?
Sign behind plane flying over Augusta National as Tiger Woods teed off, referring to the philandering golfer’s stated recommitment to Buddhism
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4-8-10

These truths are not new, deep insights from the professional world of research, but rather, the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules, the same technique God uses to train His children. These principles are profoundly simple and extremely obvious. After examining them with us, you will say, “I knew that all along. Where have I been? It’s so obvious.”
Book blurb for To Train Up a Child
nogreaterjoy.org, 2-24-10

210 years, that’s arbitrary. They put that time to make up for what they don’t know.
Lauren Dunn, 19, Liberty University biology major, disputing the age of a Morganucodon rat at the Natural History Museum in Washington
Agence France-Presse, 3-10-10

There is no scientific, biological genetic way that this, this rat, could become you.
Nathan Hubbard, 20, Liberty University biology major who plans to become a doctor
Agence France-Presse, 3-10-10

Shame on you for your gambling vote this week. I am ashamed of you. You coward. What kind of kickbacks are Bedford and the slimy Democrats offering you? “Jesus knows my heart.” What a load of BS. Thank God your sorry butt will be leaving office soon.
Baptist Pastor Steve Thompson’s e-mail to a legislator supporting an Alabama referendum on electronic bingo
Florence Times Daily, 4-6-10

My family will join other Christians all over the world in marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all — Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike.
President Obama, weekly radio address
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4-4-10

God has his hands all over you.
Rev. Michael Bell Sr., pastor at Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, to President Obama on Easter Sunday
Washington Post, 4-5-10

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of priest.
Spanish proverb (submitted by FFRF member Marcel Stratton for Mother’s Day 2010)

The Baptist situation may be no better than the Catholic, only shielded more deeply from view. This situation demands reform, immediately, for the sake of the vulnerable and abused children among us — so desecrated by the abuse behind our stained-glass windows.
David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics, Mercer University, Ga.
Associated Baptist Press, 3-29-10

Honk if Pope should resign.
Protester’s sign outside St. Patrick’s
Cathedral in Manhattan
New York Times, 3-28-10

It started out as a Christian thing. You go to church. You pray. You take care of your family. I think David started to take it a little too far. It started to get worse when they were talking about the world’s gonna end in the bible. He dragged a lot of people with him. When he got carried away, when he went from handguns to big guns, I was done.
Donna Stone, ex-wife of David Stone, Hutaree Christian militia leader
Christian Science Monitor, 3-29-10

Crabb’s ruling, in a case initiated by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, seeks to restore Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state.” It is not her point or purpose to undermine the practice of religion.
This is a reasoned judgment, a judgment grounded in a core value of the American experiment. Indeed, if it took courage for Judge Crabb to issue this historic ruling, it was the courage of the founders.
Associate editor John Nichols, “Crabb’s prayer ruling honors the founders”
The Capital Times (Madison, Wis.), 4-28-10

Atheists, agnostics and other nonbelievers . . . should seize the moment and declare the day as our own, a “National Day Without Prayer.” It could ultimately become an annual nonbelievers coming-out day.
Tommi Avicolli
Beyond Chronicle.com, San Francisco
4-19-10

Government-sponsored prayer. Pentagon-endorsed prayer. Taxpayer-subsidized and taxpayer-endorsed prayer. The phrases sound so ridiculous that their tautological nature is evident. Judge Crabb, I salute you — however long your ruling has the force of law.
Author Susan Jacoby
Washington Post, 4-27-10

Throughout our history, I think, the business of trying to bring religion into our public life has done nothing but create confusion. Such things as placing “In God We Trust” on our money and adding “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance divides rather than unites us.
Columnist Rose Nolen
Missourian, 4-27-10

My first thought was, “Forgive us, Lord Jesus.” It’s time for the body of Christ to wake up, and for Jews and Hindus and Muslims to wake up and defend their religious freedoms.
Susan Alberti, Jacksonville-area Day of Prayer organizer, on FFRF’s successful lawsuit
Florida Times-Union, 4-16-10

The Christian Legal Society is not being denied any First Amendment rights. It is being told that if it wants an official association with a public university and public money, it cannot deny gays, non-Christians or members of any other protected minority equal rights.
New York Times editorial
New York Times, 4-18-10

More focus on civic issues, particularly the separation of church and infidel.
Textbook change mandated by Texas Board of Education
The Onion, 3-25-10

Prepare yourself for the two most important words in church-scandal prevention: altar chimps. Chimps and humans share 96% of their DNA, but, crucially, not the 4% that is sexually attractive to priests.
John Hodgman, actor and author
“The Daily Show,” 4-12-10

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