Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 7 September 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard September 2011

Atheism is a religion like “off” is a TV channel.
BenB’s online comment on negative movie review of “The Ledge”
National Catholic Register, 8-30-11

This country and many of its citizens generally take a dim view of regimes that force or sanction a particular religion upon their citizens. In the United States, we have the freedom to engage in the faith of our choice or to not practice any faith. Government-sanctioned prayer, such as at high school athletic events, undermines that constitutional guarantee. That’s something DeSoto County [Miss.] residents, upset over the halting of prayers over public address systems at athletic events, should keep in mind.
Editorial supporting FFRF’s school prayer complaint
Memphis Commercial Appeal, 8-30-11

The last time I held a bible, I was smoking it.
Scottish comic Billy Connolly, on tearing out pages from the Book of Revelations with late singer Gerry Rafferty so they could roll cigarettes
The Daily Mirror, 8-25-11

A survey conducted on behalf of the American Bible Society found that 63% incorrectly believed that a verse found in 2 Corinthians was actually a quote from either Martin Luther King Jr., former President George W. Bush, or the patriotic superhero, Captain America.
Christian Post, 8-29-11
The most surprising result here is that religion does not make black women happier. It gives them certain types of resources, certain types of comfort. But to be a highly religious, prayerful African-American woman does not necessarily lead to a higher level of life satisfaction and can have some boomerang effects, sometimes making black women more judgmental of themselves.
Melissa Harris-Perry, Tulane University professor, on Sister Citizen, her new book about deep-seated stereotypes dogging black women
New York Times Style Magazine, 8-21-11

It is a shame how the church continues to abuse the females. Church attendance is shrinking now, and this adds more fuel to the fire on how females are treated as second-class citizens.
Bob Lutz, a Catholic with three daughters, on the decision to stop having female altar servers at Saints Simon & Jude Cathedral in Phoenix
Arizona Republic, 8-21-11

[I]n data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about, lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.
Op-ed by David Campbell, associate professor of political science at Notre Dame, and Robert Putnam, professor of public policy at Harvard
New York Times, 8-16-11

A lot of parochial schools were really desperate. This gives them a tremendous shot in the arm. It’s going to save some of them from going under. I don’t think that’s accidental.
Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White, on the fact that all of the 45 private schools signed up to take tax money for vouchers are religiously affiliated
Indianapolis Star, 8-17-11

Matt [Stone, “The Book of Mormon” co-creator] still believes that religion is a force for good, and I believe people are good in spite of religion.
Penn Jillette, author of God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, 8-10-11

What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist — I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe. I don’t know exactly how we got here, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. We have some of the pieces of the puzzle and we’ll get more, but I’m not going to use faith to fill in the gaps.
Penn Jillette, “I don’t know, so I’m an atheist libertarian”
CNN, 8-17-11

Americans are becoming less religious, with rates of atheism and secularism increasing in each new generation. This demographic transformation has been in progress ever since World War II, but in recent years it’s begun to seriously pick up steam. In the generation born since 1982, variously referred to as Generation Y, the Millennials or Generation Next, one in five people identify as nonreligious, atheist or agnostic. In the youngest cohort, the trend is even more dramatic: As many as 30% of those born since 1990 are nonbelievers. Another study, this one by a Christian polling firm, found that people are leaving Christianity at four times the rate that new members are joining.
Adam Lee, Daylight Atheism founder and FFRF Lifetime Member, “How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation”, 8-10-11

As religious leaders we should only be preaching about love and peace. We should not mix politics with religion.
Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan, which became a nation July 9 under a secular constitution
Sudan Tribune, 8-21-11

O’Donnell, a Christian, then politely turned down a request from a young man to sign his book on demonology instead of a copy of her book.
News story on Christine O’Donnell’s book-signing event for Troublemaker, for which five people showed up in Naples, Fla.
Fort Myers News-Press, 8-27-11

To Jews, Muslims, nonbelievers and even many Christians, the biblical bully that is Rick Perry must sound downright menacing, particularly when he gets into religious absolutism. “As a nation, we must call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles,” he said last week. As a lone citizen, he’s free to advocate Jesus-driven public policy imperatives. But coming from someone who wants to govern this great mess of a country with all its beliefs, Perry’s language is an insult to the founding principles of the republic. Substitute Allah or a Hindu God for Jesus and see how that polls.
Timothy Egan op-ed, “Rick Perry’s Unanswered Prayers”
New York Times, 8-11-11

At this point, Perry and his spiritual warriors are still circling the wall of separation between church and state, waiting for God’s signal to give a shout and break it down. Those of us not among the army of spiritual warriors anxious to break down that wall would be wise to make sure we are prepared to prop it up.
Report on The Response evangelical rally Aug. 6 in Houston, 8-11-11

After years of political activity and increasing power inside the American Religious Right, the New Apostolic Reformation has suddenly been propelled into national press coverage by presidential candidate Rick Perry and his supposedly nonpartisan and nonpolitical prayer rally. Now that he has been chosen and anointed by the movement’s apostles, the prayer warriors across the nation can be mobilized on his behalf.
Rachel Tabachnick, “Meet the Christian Dominionist ‘Prayer Warriors’ Who Have Chosen Rick Perry as Their Vehicle to Power”
AlterNet, 8-15-11

Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?
Referendum question that will appear on the November 2012 ballot in Maine if 57,277 signatures are gathered
Portland Press Herald, 8-19-11

The FaithShares folks will close and liquidate their entire line of Exchange Traded Funds (the Baptist, Catholic, Christian, Lutheran and Methodist Values ETFs). The ETFs in question were fine investment vehicles except for two small flaws: (1) poor returns and (2) utterly no investor interest. FaithShares will then change their name to Exchange Traded Concepts LLC. And what will ETC LLC do? Invoking the “those who can’t do, consult” dictum, they propose to sell their expertise as ETF providers to other aspiring investment managers. Their motto: “Launch your own ETF without lifting a finger.” Yep, that’s the level of commitment I’d like to see in an adviser.
David Snowball, investment analyst and professor of communication studies at Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.
Mutual Fund Observer, 8-1-11

Sometimes I feel like Christopher Columbus on an expedition to an unknown continent. For example, many believe that the U.S. population is steadily becoming more religious, but this is an optical illusion. Many evangelicals have simply become more aggressive and more political.
Barry Kosmin, director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College, Hartford, Conn.
Der Spiegel, 8-11-11

We are based on the Judeo-Christian ethic. We derive a lot from it. But if you say we’re a Christian nation, what about the Jews, what about the Muslims, what about the nonbelievers? I mean, one of the great things about our country is the First Amendment guarantees you the right to believe or not to believe, as you choose.
Political consultant Karl Rove
“On the Record with Greta van Susteren,” 8-16-11

Sign outside the First Church of God, Mannford, Okla.
Sand Springs Leader, 8-10-11

But even if a majority of the Texas state board voted tomorrow to teach creationism alongside evolution in science classrooms, public schools may not do so without violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. So-called “balanced treatment” — when you teach one, teach the other — was explicitly struck down as unconstitutional promotion of religion in public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 (Edwards v. Aguillard).
Op-ed by Charles Haynes, First Amendment Center senior scholar
Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, 8-30-11

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