Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 1 January/February 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard Jan 11

I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.
Writer-comedian Ricky Gervais, “Why I’m an atheist”
Wall Street Journal, 12-19-10

It’s a separation of church and state issue.
Steve Silverberg, village trustee in Piermont, N.Y., on the board’s refusal to waive a $300 rental fee for St. John’s Catholic Church to use a city building
Nyack-Piermont Patch, 1-17-11

Report: Majority of money donated at church doesn’t make it to God
Satirical story headline
The Onion, 1-13-11

If you say pedophile priests and abuse are the work of the devil, you take responsibility off of the perpetrators and those who protected them.
Thomas Groome, Boston College theologian, on the pope blaming demonic causes for the clergy sex abuse scandal
Baltimore Sun, 1-12-11

There is no doubt in my mind that [Pope John Paul II] was a disgraceful manager of the Church with respect to the greatest crisis it has faced in generations. His relationship with and protection of the pedophile, incestuous neo-fascist, Marcial Maciel, alone makes beatification, to my mind, an appalling swipe at the children John Paul II abandoned to the wolves.
Columnist Andrew Sullivan
The Atlantic, 1-20-11

[L]ess than one abuser out of six was inflicted the maximum penalty available to the bishop: definitive suspension. And even fewer, 16%, were effectively condemned by the judiciary.
Summary by Le Soir newspaper of the disposition of reported Catholic clergy sex abuse cases in Belgium
Agence France-Presse, 1-12-11

The boy described the defendant asking him before the alleged abuse, “Do you want some?” and when he replied in the negative, the defendant would say “For God’s sake, just say yes.”
Prosecutor Tariq Shakor Khan, at the trial of Muslim worship leader Mohammed Hanif Khan for raping a 12-year-old in a mosque
The [U.K.] Independent, 1-12-11
 
Pastor Uses Illusions to Share Christmas Message
Headline on story about Rev. Lawrence Khong and his daughter Priscilla’s magic show before 7,000 Baptists in Singapore
Christian Post, 12-21-10

Perv Priest Slaps Probe
Headline on story about Msgr. Charles Kavanagh being defrocked for sexually abusing a Catholic student in the 1970s
New York Post, 12-19-10

Intelligent design will probably not pass constitutional muster, but the movement always adapts to the court cases and calls it something else.
Michael Berkman, co-author of Evolution, Creationism and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms, on the fifth anniversary of the ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover
Philadelphia Inquirer, 12-20-10

Dover  was a life-changing event in terms of allowing me to have a voice about judicial independence. The troubling aspect is that I’ve recognized we have a need to have better civics education.
U.S. District Judge John Jones III, who got death threats after ruling against teaching intelligent design in public schools
Philadelphia Inquirer, 12-20-10

His point of view is that his Inaugural Day needs to respect the separation of church and state. Separation of church and state is an important constitutional principle.
Michael Trainor, spokesman for Rhode Island Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee, who said he’d skip Episcopalian serv-ices Jan. 4 to be at home with his family
Providence Journal, 12-20-10

The writ of the Founding Fathers has upheld the ability of Americans to worship and practice religion as they choose, including the right to believe in no religion at all. However, these liberties are not self-sustaining, and require a stalwart commitment by each generation to preserve and apply them.
President Obama, proclaiming Jan. 14 as Religious Freedom Day
whitehouse.gov, 1-14-11

Atheists think for themselves and examine all available evidence with a critical eye. They tend to be unconcerned with what others think of their opinions, and honest with themselves when presented with empirical evidence contrary to what they might have once believed. They are also rightfully wary of organized religion and the dangers of charismatic religious leaders.
Unnamed “person of faith” responding to a challenge to say one nice thing about atheism
The Sceptical Scribe, 12-15-10
 
You know, you get to that age, you haven’t even kissed your first girl yet. And here you’ve got this guy kissing you. He did some harm.
John Purdy, St. Paul, Minn., one of 21 men accusing Raimond Rose of the De La Salle Christian Brothers of molesting them as far back as the 1960s
Associated Press, 12-7-10

The GPS tracking device fits inside the Christmas decoration, features motion-activated tracking and sends text messages and e-mail alerts if the figurine moves. Baby Jesus has successfully been tracked to a thief’s apartment and then recovered.
Story on BrickHouse Security’s free GPS Jesus program
Computerworld, 12-16-10

Person A is driving along I-75 from a monster truck rally. Person B, a drunk driver, crosses the median at 65 mph and slams into Person A’s car, killing him and his pet llama instantly. Person B, while dinged up a bit, lives to become an inmate’s boy toy, but will most likely be released on parole three years later thanks to our great “justice” system. Now which person was God with? Logic would tell me “the drunk driver.” Naturally, people of faith have some platitudes to dismiss my reasoning.
John Danz Jr., on crediting God instead of luck or human ingenuity
The Student Operated Press, 12-15-10

The locker room is a religion- and politics-free zone, where everyone can spend their free time in a neutral manner.
Notice at Lady Fitness gym asking women not to pray on the premises, a ban objected to by Muslims but upheld by Eva Biaudet, Finland’s minority ombudsman
Helsingin Sanomat, 12-20-10
     
Sure, people will say Jesus is the reason for the season, but Thor is the reason the fifth day of the week is named Thursday. That doesn’t mean I celebrate Thor. The fact is, people don’t open the Gospel and read why Jesus came.
Rev. Ed Stetzer, Baptist pastor and president of LifeWay (“Biblical Solutions for Life”)
USA Today, 12-20-10

It’s time for Belmont University to change and to recognize that we have gay students, faculty and staff. Belmont has to decide whether they want to be a national recognized university — particularly with their School of Music business — or they want to be a church.
Mike “The Candy Man” Curb, Nashville, Tenn., Curb Records president, on the Christian school firing a gay women’s soccer coach
The Tennessean, 12-8-10

Dear Super Christians: I have nothing against your religion, but I would like you to keep your beliefs to yourself and off Facebook, which is a website of many different faiths. I’m going to start deleting people who post bible quotes constantly.
Post by Gordie Mann
Facebook, 1-10-11

I must admit that I read the religion section partially for a laugh. Why else? To keep an eye on things that I am wary of: anti-intellectualism, pseudo-science, lying to children, extremism, scriptural literalism, anti-blasphemy laws and the like. If you don’t know what you are up against, you can’t fight it as well as you could or should. I am for a free and secular society where the individual is protected from not just the majority, but from the moral laws of the religious. And so while I do read the oddest articles for a cheap chuckle, I tend to read to gird myself to protect individual liberty.
Alex Wilhelm, atheist blogger, answering why he reads the religion section
Huffington Post, 1-11-11

Hardcore Christians tell me the bible calls homosexuality “an abomination.” What they fail to mention is that it’s only one of several hundred abominations, including wearing clothes made of more than one material. Better send all those blends to Goodwill. When I point that out, they change gears and ask why I’m endorsing the gay agenda. Gays have an agenda? Ever watch “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”? You can’t get five gay guys to agree on drapes, much less an agenda!
Atheist comedian Frank King, answering why he reads the religion section
Huffington Post, 1-11-11

A locked box containing an unusual combination of valuables was stolen from a Flint home on Tuesday, according to a police report. Inside the box were four bottles of methadone and a white leather family bible.
News story on burglary
The Flint [Mich.] Journal, 1-26-11

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