Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 9 November 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard November 2011

Why am I an atheist? I ask you: Why is anybody not an atheist? Everyone starts out being an atheist. No one is born with belief in anything. Infants are atheists until they are indoctrinated. I resent anyone pushing their religion on me. I don’t push my atheism on anybody else. Live and let live. Not many people practice that when it comes to religion.
CBS commentator Andy Rooney, who died Nov. 4 at age 92 and was a 2001 recipient of FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Boston Globe, 5-30-82

The FBI released its report [Nov. 14] on 2010 Hate Crime Statistics. Of the 6,224 single-bias incidents reported in 2010, 20% were motivated by religious bias, second only to racially motivated hate crimes, which accounted for 47.3% of the incidents.
U.S. Department of Justice statistics
Religion Clause, 11-15-11

He basically told me that if I don’t get right with God, then I’m worthless — that if I don’t believe in Jesus, why am I in uniform, because this is God’s army, and that I should resign my commission in order to stop disgracing the military.
Capt. Ryan Jean, U.S. Army intelligence officer and member of Atheists at Fort Meade, on being berated for his lack of faith by a chaplain in Kuwait
The Baltimore Sun, 11-5-11

The hoary aphorism that “there are no atheists in foxholes” is contradicted by, among others, the examples of Baseball Hall of Famer and combat pilot Ted Williams and former NFL player and soldier Pat Tillman, neither of whom considered himself religious. If today’s chaplains and lay religious leaders can’t bring themselves to respect the beliefs of such men, both of whom performed courageously in battle, the fault lies not in their faith, whatever it may be, but in the narrow, intolerant way they — and the armed forces — have chosen to interpret it.
Editorial, “There are plenty of atheists in foxholes, and their beliefs must be respected”
The Baltimore Sun, 11-8-11

A lot of students come from small, conservative towns centered around church where there is not a lot of discussion about atheists, and so they are sort of forced to keep their opinion to themselves. This group is a chance to show the rest of the student body we are just like everyone else.
Nick Shadowen, a philosophy major and member of a secular group awaiting Duquesne University’s decision to formally recognize it
Washington Post, 11-8-11

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 sticker on the garage door at the State College, Pa., home of Jerry Sandusky, who faces 40 sexual abuse charges for alleged incidents with young boys over 15 years
USA Today, 11-12-11

We don’t want a Party of God here in Libya, like Lebanon or Afghanistan. We want to build a state on normal, modern organizational terms. The best man for the job would be a man who is a patriot with skills and experience, not someone who counts how many times he prays each day.
Omar Salem el-Ghaied, deputy head of the Misrata military council, on who should be defense minister in the new government
Wall Street Journal, 11-5-11

I had been watching this case since the summer, and I thought the court would find it hard to resist. That was a prediction, not a wish; unlike Justice Thomas, I think the lower court got this one right, and I find the argument for regarding a collection of 12-foot-high crosses along a state’s highways as anything other than an official endorsement of Christian belief to be almost laughably weak.
New York Times columnist Linda Greenhouse, on the Supreme Court’s refusal (to which Clarence Thomas dissented), to hear an appeal of a ruling that barred cross memorials to Utah state troopers
New York Times, 11-3-11

Under his pants, he is wearing magic underwear. Magic underwear. And he believes that a convicted con man got golden tablets that no one else could see, and sat with an angel to find out that the original Jews of the bible were living in North America. Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy.
Atheist Penn Jillette, assessing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
opposingviews.com, 11-13-11

Camping has fleeced his followers out of millions of dollars over the years without one law enforcement official ever looking into what he was doing was against the law. When someone doesn’t provide a service or the product does not do what it is supposed to, a customer is allowed to receive their money back or it could be considered a fraudulent transaction. But I do not see Harold Camping giving one red nickel back to his donors or even apologizing for misleading them.
Marty Angelo, who operates a prison ministry and calls Camping a “Christian Bernie Madoff”
Christian Newswire, 10-21-11

Whether or not prayer at school events is illegal is not up for debate. We are not interested in hearing your prayers, sir, or in having our impressionable children subjected to them by those they see as authority figures. Keep them at home and at church where they belong.
Letter to the editor by Jeremy Green, Killen, Ala., on whose behalf FFRF filed a complaint about school-sponsored prayer at Brooks High School football games
Florence Times Daily, 11-6-11

As far as I can tell, there is nothing that pushes you to a lack of faith more than a belief in the natural world. Curiosity in why things are the way they are and how they work is kind of the antithesis of faith in that way.
Shawn Hanrahan, entomology doctoral student and vice president of the Agnostic and Atheist Student Group at Texas A&M
The Battalion, 10-27-11

It’s not about prayer, it’s not about religion; it’s about reasonable requirements.
Hertz spokesman Rich Broome, on the company firing 26 Somalians, who earn about $9.50 an hour, for not “clocking out” during Muslim prayers, even though that’s part of their union contract
Associated Press, 10-21-11

What legal advantage could there possibly be in making the identity of the parent and the Giles County student, whose welfare they are supposed to be concerned with, known to all, with possibly serious harm coming to them from that knowledge? There is none; it is, plain and simple, an attempt at intimidation of a child and an unholy hope that fear will change his or her mind. How would the school board feel if the target was one of their families? Jesus told the hypocrites, “Practice what you preach.”
Gene St. Clair, letter to the editor, “Giles board forgets the Golden Rule,” on the plaintiffs’ request for anonymity in a lawsuit filed by FFRF and the ACLU of Virginia
Roanoke Times, 10-19-11

Happy people don’t write apocalypses. That’s why this guy is doing this now. They never show up when things are going well. There’s always this last-ditch answer to solve problems — let God handle it. The assumption is the world has become so wicked and evil, it will take an act of God to sort it out.
Rebecca Denova, University of Pittsburgh religious studies lecturer, on Rev. Harold Camping’s End Times predictions
Courier-Post, 10-20-11

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