Freethought Today · May 2012

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard May 2012

[T]he National Day of Reason is about taking time to improve our communities. Every year, events are held on this day that demonstrate the desire of secular Americans to help their fellow citizens and our nation as a whole. Community service events, such as food drives and blood drives, are just some of the ways that people will be working to help those in need on the Day of Reason and throughout the year. I encourage everyone to join in observing this day and focusing upon the employment of reason, critical thinking, the scientific method, and free inquiry to improve our world and our nation.
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., U.S. House floor statement recognizing May 3 as the National Day of Reason
Congressional Record, 4-27-12

About 1,520 results; About 36 results
Google News search results respectively for “National Day of Prayer” and “National Day of Reason,” both observed on May 3, 5-4-12

The truth is way too dangerous.
Alex Aan, 30, imprisoned in Indonesia for posting “God does not exist” on Facebook
The Guardian, 5-3-12

In a statement released today, God, the supreme being and creator of the universe, confirmed that he has once again postponed the transfer of the planet Earth to the meek.
Satirical news story
The Smew, 5-1-12

Had the Year of the Bible been declared by the Catholic Church, the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Pentecostals, just about any religious group one can name, there wouldn’t be any issue whatsoever. But it wasn’t a religious group that drove this designation. It was our state government, and the members of that body should know better.
Rahn Forney, editorial page editor, criticizing Pennsylvania lawmakers for declaring 2012 as the Year of the Bible, an action FFRF is suing over
Lebanon Daily News, 4-19-12

I think it’s time the church ceases to protect the bad priests. The representatives of the church did wrong to cover up and hide this problem.
Mary Mignogno, nurse and Catholic school volunteer, on Pennsylvania parishioners being told Fr. Robert Brennan was removed because he had Lyme disease instead of the real reason, that he was accused of molesting a boy
Norristown Times Herald, 5-8-12

At the time, industry and science reflected an enlightenment mindset. People believed freedom of thought and industrial growth would bind and unify the new country, not religion or God.
Todd Imhof, whose company auctioned for $1 million a 1792 “silver plug” penny, which says “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry” instead of “In God We Trust”
ABC News, 4-19-12

Nothing fails quite like prayer. One of the reasons we’ve been fighting the War on Terror is because of religion. You rely on your buddies.
Scott Otto, an atheist and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, now an anthropology major at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston
The Daily Eastern News, 4-18-12 

That’s what’s unique about both militant nationalists and militant Islamists. We do believe in an afterlife, at least many of us do, because we are Christians.
Anders Behring Breivik, describing himself as a “militant Christian” in court in Norway at his trial for killing 77 people last July
The Guardian, 4-18-12

I won’t point fingers, but it’s suspicious, given the circumstances.
High school senior Jacob Nantau, Middle Lake, Saskatchewan, whose car was vandalized several times after he voted against having prayer at a graduation banquet.
Regina Leader-Post, 4-24-12

I think it’s time for me to move to Japan. When I said that I was an atheist, everyone insulted me and the legal authorities jumped on everything that I wrote on Twitter. I am perhaps the first person anywhere in the world to be the object of a judicial inquiry for declaring that they are an atheist.
Composer/pianist Fazil Say, on the rise of conservative Islam in his native Turkey
Al Arabiya, 4-23-12

What would Jesus do with the U.S. economy?
First sentence in a news story headlined “Christians Debate: Was Jesus For Small Government?”
National Public Radio, 4-16-12

Bottom line, we are saying do not attempt to pass a policy based on this statute unless you want to have lengthy litigation.
Wayne Blanton, Florida School Boards Association executive director, on a new law that lets students give “inspirational messages,” including prayers, at school functions
Orlando Sentinel, 4-11-12 

I invite you to visit the Ali Forney Center, only 30 blocks from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and meet with youths whose Catholic parents drove them from their homes. I want you to hear them tell you what it is like to have their parents be ashamed of them, and tell them that they are against God. I want you to see what their lives are like alone, unloved, and abandoned in the streets. I hope that by meeting our kids you can understand the pain and anguish you help to cause.
Letter from Joseph Amodeo, Executive Committee member of the Junior Board of Catholic Charities, to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, after which Amodeo resigned from the board
Huffington Post, 4-5-12 

Ban on Gideon Bible handout at public schools sparks torrent of hate mail
Headline on news story about a Canadian school district
Toronto Star, 4-8-12

We inhabit a polity now saturated with religion. On one side, the Republican base is made up of evangelical Protestants who believe that religion must consume and influence every aspect of public life. On the other side, the last Democratic primary had candidates profess their faith in public forums, and more recently President Obama appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast, invoking Jesus to defend his plan for universal health care.
Columnist Andrew Sullivan, “Christianity in Crisis”
The Daily Beast, 4-2-12 

It was kind of like looking at a black-and-white picture and seeing someone wearing a yellow hat. It just seemed odd to me.
Robert Kane, testifying at the trial of Fr. James Brennan how the image has stuck in his head of seeing the priest massage the bare back in 1990 of a boy after a youth baseball game
Philadelphia Inquirer, 4-11-12

I hope this organization helps skeptic students “come out” with their beliefs. We hope to build an accepting community for an otherwise largely stigmatized movement. Long-term, I hope the club grows to have an impactful presence on the QU community and ideally strip away the heavy negative view of secular thinking, especially atheism, which seems to meet the most hostile opposition.
Co-founder Julia Olson of the Quinnipiac University Atheist, Humanist and Agnostic Association in Hamden, Conn.
The Quad News, 4-22-12

We understand that in some Islamic states, gay people are persecuted and executed for their sexuality. It was an ideal opportunity to challenge the notion of acceptance and tolerance. As we began kissing, the Muslims began chanting, “Burn in hell.”
Gregory Storer, on kissing his partner in front of Muslim protesters at the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia
GNN, 4-16-12 

Atheists are like snowflakes — no two are the same. You find very few that reach a conclusion to the “God question” the same way. We are just a group of people who lack a belief in God or gods, but we have different beliefs outside of that.
Brandon Moore, North Carolina State graduate student in biomanufacturing and engineering
Technician, 4-30-12

Even as Republicans try to wrestle women into chastity belts, the Vatican is trying to muzzle American nuns. How can the church hierarchy be more offended by the nuns’ impassioned advocacy for the poor than by priests’ sordid pedophilia? The church leadership never recoiled in horror from pedophilia, yet it recoils in horror from outspoken nuns.
Columnist Maureen Dowd, “Bishops play church queens as pawns”
New York Times, 4-28-12

In reality, as I worked through them, I found that religion had so many holes in it, that I just progressed through stages where I couldn’t believe it.
Teresa MacBain, Tallahassee, Fla., a former Methodist pastor who has embraced atheism
National Public Radio, 4-30-12

Don’t just read verbatim the text on a PowerPoint slide or merely describe an image being shown. “That’s a totally naked man” adds no real informational value to the presentation. Tell us something about the naked man we don’t know just from looking at his picture. Maybe he loves soccer, maybe he’s a Freemason. Make him more than just another naked man who showed up mysteriously in your presentation. Otherwise the audience will end up in “PowerPoint Hell.”
Columnist Chris Nerney, on an Irish priest whose photos of nude men were mistakenly shown to parents of children preparing for First Communion
IT World, 4-30-12

Harbor of Light Publishing Releases Simple-Minded Guides for Bible Reading
Press release headline from Newnan, Ga., company on its Redneck’s Guide series, 5-2-12 

I am a victim of rape by a priest.
Megan Peterson, 22, speaking outside the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Winona, Minn., about being raped at age 14 for 10 months by a Catholic priest who fled to India
Winona Daily News, 5-2-12

Obviously, there are millions of very smart and generally rational people who believe in God. Obviously, this study doesn’t prove the nonexistence of God. But it poses a challenge to believers: If God exists, and if believing in God is perfectly rational, then why does increasing rational thinking tend to decrease belief in God?
Harvard University psychologist Joshua Greene
Scientific American, 4-26-12

This service has a very right-wing bent, a born-again slant. It’s not inclusive to any religion.
Paul Goleb, New Britain, Conn., an atheist protesting the National Day of Prayer event inside City Hall in Middletown, Conn.
Middletown Patch, 5-4-12

I’ve gotten a lot out of [the atheist] community. This is kind of a way for me to do something for the community that uses my skills and knowledge. I don’t think there’s been anything done like this.
Bill Lehto, Farmington, Minn., who founded Freethought House to publish a collection of 35 essays by Minnesota atheists
Farmington Independent, 5-5-12 

Residents of states that have laws banning gay marriage have 11% more porn subscribers than states that don’t restrict gay marriage. I wonder what passage of the bible they twist around to rationalize that little hobby.
Syndicated columnist Lloyd Garver
Springfield State Journal-Register, 5-10-12

Evidently Jesus was so filled with rage that he was speechless. I am confident he condemned [gay marriage] all the time in private, when he was hanging out with those other 12 dudes at their elaborate dinner parties, where they all sat on the same side of the table, just living the bachelor life together, drinking wine and working on their washboard abs.
Stephen Colbert, on being unable to find any words about homosexuality attributed to Jesus
“The Colbert Report,” 5-10-12

The larger concern with secularism is that it damages people, and that it actually keeps people from being reasonable with one another. It creates a great level of intolerance for people of faith. I think secularism for Pope Benedict is a feature of this growing bifurcation between faith and reason.
Chad Pecknold, assistant professor of systematic theology, Catholic University of America
Catholic News Service, 4-20-12

Research scientists have proven that the miracles described in The Bible and in films like The Ten Commandments really DID occur, The ENQUIRER has learned!
News story, “Scientists: Bible Miracles Really Happened!”
National Enquirer, 4-5-12

He’s an atheist like the rest of his party. They’re all atheists.
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, who also called President Obama “the jug-eared lunkhead in the White House” in a speech at Missouri State University
Springfield News-Leader, 4-11-12
Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama, with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.
Bishop Daniel Jenky, Diocese of Peoria, Ill., addressing “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith” rally and march
The Catholic Post, 4-14-12

It’s imperative that we reach into the arsenal of history and discover the weapon that defeated Adolph [sic] Hitler.
Christian author Brad Fenichel, calling for a May 3 National Minute of Prayer, a World War II “phenomenon which was widely credited, by contemporary people of faith, for the demise of the Third Reich” 
Christian Newswire, 4-16-12 

At first she was talking about public displays of affection, and she turned around and she directly pointed to the gay people and said, “If you’re gay you’re going to hell, and if you’re pregnant, your life is over.”
Student Amber Whittiemore, on remarks made to students by Dorothy Bond, high school principal in Brownsville, Tenn., who resigned after they were made public
ABC 24, 2-28-12
I would not vote for a man who was an atheist because I believe you need to have an acknowledgement or a reverence or a fear for almighty God.
Anne Graham Lotz, Rev. Billy Graham’s daughter
“Meet the Press,” 4-8-12

As much as we love the Brewers, unlike Jesus, they didn’t die for your sins. With regard to beer and brats on Good Friday, let’s just say that’s why God created the three-game series.
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, telling Catholic baseball fans they must be wiener-less
McClatchy News Service, 4-7-12

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