Overheard

I don't believe in God.

--Actor Javier Bardem (nominated for "best actor," "Before Night Falls")
New York Times, March 4, 2001

I'm an atheist, although I had to look up the word in the dictionary way back when I realized I didn't believe in god as an all-seeing thing. I believe in Darwin and the natural world.

I don't like the way organized religion manipulates people. I don't like wars in history that have been about differences in religion. And what is this thing about swearing on the Bible in court? I don't need that to tell the truth.

--Choreographer Paul Taylor
"Paul Taylor, Ballet's Beloved Enemy"
New York Times, March 4, 2001

The obituaries in the newspapers and on television [of Steve Allen] were well done but none mentioned what ended up being an obsession with Steve. He was a student of the Bible and a dedicated atheist intent on proving the Bible was a seriously flawed book that many people who profess to live by it, don't know or understand.

--Andy Rooney
Press-Enterprise, Nov. 5, 2000

"Church admits to shortage of miracles."

--Headline
The [London] Times, June 8, 2000

You have been chosen by God to lead the people.

--Rev. Mark Craig to Dubya
Dec. 14 victory sermon New York Post, Dec. 15, 2000

There is, indeed, little question that religion--or, if one wants to be nice about it, the name of religion--has become increasingly associated with conflict around the globe. From Kosovo to Khartoum, from Jerusalem to Jakarta, the struggle for power and pelf both within and between countries can often now be cast in religious terms.

--Book Editor Mark Silk
Religion on the International News Agenda [Charleston] Gazette-Mail, Nov. 26, 2000

Terrific news from the Archbishop of Canterbury: we have become a society of atheists. In a startlingly pessimistic analysis of the role of the church in contemporary Britain, Dr. George Carey admits that "a tacit atheism prevails" and that people have stopped believing in life after death.

--Joan Smith
The Guardian, Oct. 30, 2000

I was looking at this woman [one of several CNN Washington newsroom employees with ashes on their faces] and I was trying to figure out what was on her forehead. At first I thought you were in the [Seattle] earthquake. I realized you're just Jesus freaks. Shouldn't you guys be working for Fox?

--Ted Turner
New York Post, March 8, 2001

If the outrage directed at the Taliban for destroying ancient religious figures were instead channeled into rescuing the living from the hell that is Afghanistan, there would be much more to celebrate [on this International Women's Day].

--Glenda Holste
St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 8, 2001

I was born in Hildale, Utah, the 25th child of 31 total among my father's four wives. My mother was the third wife. Polygamy goes back on my mother's side clear to the days of Joseph Smith. That's eight generations of polygamy. . . .

We were just little girls in odd clothes and funny hair who thought we were going to hell if we didn't obey. Who would think, right here in the United States of America, fathers are trading their daughters away like trophies? It's brainwashing and slavery. It's a complete system of organized crime right in our backyard that for some reason the government has simply chosen to ignore.

--Laura Chapman, molested by her father, quit school at 11 to work without pay, married to a stranger at 18
Denver Post, March 4, 2000

Stephen Jay Gould . . . [in his book Rock of Ages] dubs his redemptive breakthrough Noma--an acronym for Non-Overlapping Magisteria . . . . The idea is that scientists and representatives of religion should agree to a "principled and respectful separation" of their activities. . . .

Noma is a non-starter, destined to plunge to the ocean floor straight from the launching ramp. . . The most obvious [reason] is Gould's glaringly inadequate account of religion. None of the things we normally associate with religion--churches, priests, dogma, belief in the supernatural, worship of a God or gods--are, Gould tells us, necessary to religion . . . [As for scientists] the suggestion that their expertise has nothing to contribute to moral discussion is tantamount to saying that moral discussion is better conducted by the ignorant.

. . . Superstition is merely faith by another name.

--Reviewer John Carey
Sunday [London] Times, Jan. 28, 2001

I think of them [convents] as dark centres of attempted brain-washing, run by women who take out their sexual frustrations on innocent children with a zeal bordering on sadomasochism. . . .

I remember being told when I was about 12 that my mother was "a slut," that I had "the mark of the Devil" and would probably go to hell because I had a "lazy eye."

--Eve-Ann Prentice
"I think of nuns as dark sadists" [London] Times, Sept. 21, 2000

The alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all.

--Sir Peter Medawar
Nobel-prize winning British biologist
"Faith-Based" Funding

. . . It seems likely that the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives will soon become a highly effective patronage scheme.

--Joe Conason
New York Observer, Feb. 12, 2001

White House Correspondent Helen Thomas: Mr. President, why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and the state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has led to slaughter. I mean, the very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having the separation--why do you break it down?

Pres. Bush: Helen, I strongly respect the separation of church and state--

Thomas: Well, you wouldn't have a religious office in the White House if you did. . . . You are a secular official. And not a missionary.

--Bush's first press conference
Feb. 22, 2001

Our founders expected that Christianity--and no other religion--would receive support from the government. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference.

--Family Research Council Press Release
Associated Press, Sept. 26, 2000

I have a problem with the teachings of Scientology being viewed on the same par as Judaism or Christianity.

--George W. Bush campaign remarks
New York Times, March 7, 2001

So why not augment all this [church-run charities] with a little governmental largess? Because even religious institutions that place a high value on serving the poor almost always place a higher value on saving souls. They should. That is why they exist in the first place.

. . . to suggest that the government should shift part of its welfare burden to churches, through tax-supported subsidies, is folly. Who will do due diligence on thousands of tiny projects to ensure that religion and government stay separate? Who will keep my church, or any other, from slipping federal funds from one pocket to another?

--Rev. Forrest Church
All Souls Unitarian Church
New York Times, Dec. 25, 2000

Those of us who live in New York can tell you how many problems arise when church and state start drifting together. This is the place where parking regulations turn into faith-based initiatives. . . . Everybody wants a piece of the action. . . . the New York political theory [is] that the way to honor the dignity of faith is by passing special-interest legislation for every religion in sight.

--Gail Collins
"Faith and Parking"
New York Times, March 7, 2001

At the national Prayer Breakfast, President George W. Bush said, "Faith crosses every border and touches every heart in every nation."

Yes, and sometimes the faithful carry bombs across borders to kill and maim people of different faiths. . . .

If tax money eventually goes to churches for charity work, the devil will be in the details.

--Rowland Nethaway
Cox News Service Columnist
New York Times, Feb. 2, 2001

If you add religious passion to what are now merely public policy debates, you promptly add an element of fanaticism that can only destroy democracy.

We have only to look at Afghanistan and Iran to see what comes of mixing religious zealotry with politics.

--Columnist Molly Ivins
West County Times
Dec. 23, 1999

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