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Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 4 May 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard May 2011

Convinced republican that I am, and foe of the prince who talks to plants and wants to be crowned “head of all faiths” as well as the etiolated [weakened, stunted by lack of light] Church of England, I find myself pierced by a pang of sympathy. Not much of a life, is it, growing old and stale with no real job except waiting for the news of Mummy’s death? Some British people claim actually to “love” their rather dumpy Hanoverian ruling house. This love takes the macabre form of demanding a regular human sacrifice whereby unexceptional people are condemned to lead wholly artificial and strained existences, and then punished or humiliated when they crack up.
Christopher Hitchens, “Does Kate Middleton really want to marry into a family like this?”
Slate, 4-18-11

I never thought about it, but as an atheist, maybe NASCAR is my church?
Columnist S.E. [Sarah Elizabeth] Cupp
New York Times, 5-1-11

When this case was argued last fall, the convolutions of the Arizona program seemed intended to mask its violation of the Constitution. The court’s ruling is another cynical sleight of hand, which will reduce access to federal courts while advancing endorsement of religion.
Editorial on the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling April 4 in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn
New York Times, 4-9-11

With distance, I could see the mean-spirited nature of the anti-gay movement, and the naked way large Christian organizations used the “gay threat” to raise money. Free from the constraints of a congregation, I could spend more time actually looking at the biblical texts that deal with homosexuality, and I was surprised to find they were not as clear as I had supposed they were.
Murray Richmond, former Presbyterian minister, now a legislative aide in the Alaska Senate, 3-27-11

Rev. Jonathan Barton, head of the Virginia Council of Churches, told of a groom who wanted to keep his gun in its holster during his wedding ceremony.
Story on attorney general’s opinion that state law allows guns in churches but individual churches may bar them
Washington Post, 4-17-11

This book, and its commercial success, remind us again of the effectiveness of religious indoctrination early in life. They recall the truth of the Jesuit saying, “Give me a child until he is 7, and I will show you the man.” Can there possibly be any child raised by devout Christian parents who does not, well before kindergarten, have images of winged beings and puffy clouds embedded in his or her brain? Small children believe in Santa Claus for the same reason — because their parents, whom they love, teach them to believe in Santa. The difference is that, at an appropriate age, parents admit that the Santa story isn’t true. They never admit, however, that heaven is the same sort of story.
“Spirited Atheist” columnist Susan Jacoby, on Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
Washington Post, 3-30-11

“I didn’t have a childhood,” she says, adding that her mother never read her any books except the bible, and that she wasn’t allowed to say “deviled eggs” or “Dirt Devil.”
Profile of singer-songwriter Katy Perry, whose parents are born-again evangelists
Vanity Fair, May 2011

He’s burning candles constantly, four or five burning at once. He said he sees God in the candles — and Bob Marley.
Arlene Johnson, mother of Lester Johnson Jr., 26, who said he was “delivering faith’s message” when he stabbed his parents several times.
Tampa Tribune, 5-2-11

As with other national minority groups, atheism is enjoying rapid growth. Despite the bigotry, the number of American nontheists has tripled as a proportion of the general population since the 1960s. Younger generations’ tolerance for the endless disputes of religion is waning fast. Surveys designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers. Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities.
Researchers Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman
Washington Post, 4-30-11

How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children? For years after the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion of Christ, was formally accused of pedophilia in a Vatican proceeding, he remained John Paul’s pet. The ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ and Opus Dei were the shock troops in John Paul’s war on Jesuits and other progressive theologians.

Columnist Maureen Dowd, arguing in “Hold the Halo” against sainthood for Pope John Paul II
New York Times, 4-23-11

Louisiana’s top priority must be to educate our children so they can compete for the high-paying jobs that we want to create. Louisiana’s job-killing creationism law undermines our education system and drives science- and technology-based companies away from Louisiana.
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, on her bill to repeal a 2008 law allowing classroom discussion of “intelligent design” as an alternative theory to evolution
Lafayette Independent Weekly, 4-18-11

Bring yourself back to life.
Sign at a British pub advertising vodka and Red Bull for £2.50 on Easter Sunday, 4-19-11

People look at you differently if you say you’re an atheist in the Army. That’s extremely taboo. I get a lot of questions if I let it slip in conversation.
Lt. Samantha Nicoll, a West Point graduate and member of Military Atheists and Secular Humanists
Associated Press, 4-1-11

When people say God blessed me with a beautiful jump shot, it really pisses me off. I tell those people, don’t undermine the work I’ve put in every day. Not some days, every day. Ask anyone who has been on a team with me who shoots the most. Go back to Seattle and Milwaukee, and ask them. The answer is me, not because it’s a competition but because that’s how I prepare.
Ray Allen, Boston Celtics guard who holds the NBA record for 3-point shots, on a sportcaster’s comment Allen was born to shoot a basketball
ESPN, 2-11-11

Jumping jacks an affront to his God.
Statshot, “Why is our child excused from gym?”
The Onion, 4-21-11

It may seem odd that an atheist would attend a Catholic university, but just as most people do, I love it here. The people are nice, the campus is beautiful and the classes are challenging. I have a family history here, and I have no regrets about coming to UD. Every person to whom I have revealed that I am an atheist has had positive reactions that usually resulted in long, meaningful conversations.
Ryan Kleshinski, senior at the University of Dayton, a Marianist Catholic college in Ohio
Flyer News, 4-11-11

For all those homosexuals who daren’t tell their parents they are gay, for all those young girls who want to have an abortion, he absolutely deserved it.
Unnamed activist at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, where four custard pies hit Belgian Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, who called AIDS “a sort of intrinsic justice”
Agence France-Presse, 4-6-11

These are Sunday school teachers becoming politicians. Mike Huckabee? He’s [like] the guy that diddled you while holding the bible. He’s so soft-spoken, so Mister Rogers.
Billie Joe Armstrong of the musical group Green Day, 4-19-11

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