Category: atheism

Why Are Americans Still Uncomfortable with Atheism?

By Casey Cep

Daniel Seeger was twenty-one when he wrote to his local draft board to say, “I have concluded that war, from the practical standpoint, is futile and self-defeating, and from the more important moral standpoint, it is unethical.” Some time later, he received the United States Selective Service System’s Form 150, asking him to detail his objections to military service. It took him a few days to reply, because he had no answer for the form’s first question: “Do you believe in a Supreme Being?”

Unsatisfied with the two available options—“Yes” and “No”—Seeger finally decided to draw and check a third box: “See attached pages.” There were eight of those pages, and in them he described reading Plato, Aristotle, and Spinoza, all of whom “evolved comprehensive ethical systems of intellectual and moral integrity without belief in God,” and concluded that “the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven, and the essence of His nature cannot be determined.” For good measure, Seeger also used scare quotes and strike-throughs to doctor the printed statement he was required to sign, so that it read, “I am, by reason of my ‘religious’ <strikethrough>training and</strikethrough> belief, conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form.”

By the time Seeger submitted his form, in the late nineteen-fifties, thousands of conscientious objectors in the U.S. had refused to fight in the two World Wars. Those who belonged to pacifist religious traditions, such as Mennonites and Quakers, were sent to war as noncombatants or to work as farmers or firefighters on the home front through the Civilian Public Service; eventually, so were those who could prove their own independent, religiously motivated pacifism. Those who could not were sent to prison or to labor camps. But while Selective Service laws had been revised again and again to clarify the criteria for conscientious objection, they still did not account for young men who, like Seeger, refused to say that their opposition to war came from belief in a Supreme Being.

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Voters with no religious affiliation hold power to sway direction of country

By Annie Laurie Gaylor

Secular voters could very well determine the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections.

The ranks of atheists, agnostics and those with no religious affiliation – “the Nones” – have increased by 19 million since Barack Obama was first elected president, making them the fastest-growing group by religious identification in America. In 2004, the Nones comprised just 16 percent of all American adults, but have now grown to a represent roughly a quarter of all adults and a third of millennials.

The Nones have been traditionally underrepresented at the ballot box, but that’s changing. The religiously unaffiliated accounted for 15 percent of voters in the 2016 presidential elections, a 3 percentage point increase since 2012. The coming election will quite possibly see a further uptick in this number.

“Religiously unaffiliated voters, who may or may not be associated with other civic institutions, seem most excited about supporting or donating to causes, going to rallies, and expressing opinions online, among other activities,” states a recent Atlantic magazine analysis. “Political engagement may be providing these Americans with a new form of identity.”

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Latinx Humanist Alliance Launches to Support and Amplify Voices in the Community

By Hemant Mehta

The American Humanist Association announced today that they were launching a new arm of the organization called the Latinx Humanist Alliance in order to help bring together and amplify the voices of the 20% of U.S. Latinx people who have no religious affiliation.

The Latinx Humanist Alliance’s mission is to facilitate social justice activism among, expand the visibility of, and foster safe spaces for Latinx humanists. In service of their mission, the alliance will develop a speakers bureau, build a nationwide network of Latinx humanists, and advise and work alongside the AHA on social justice legislative advocacy.

Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera and Luciano Gonzalez, two people who have spent a lot of time writing about and discussing the issues unique to their community, will co-chair the group.

This group will join others that also receive resources from the AHA, including the Feminist Humanist AllianceBlack Humanist Alliance, and LGBTQ Humanist Alliance.

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An Atheist Charity is Suing the IRS After Having Its Tax Exemption Revoked

By Hemant Mehta

There are a lot of U.S. laws that privilege religious institutions over other non-profits, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been working to expose those differences and get the courts to put everyone on a level playing field.

The most famous example of this involves a case in which FFRF’s co-presidents applied to the IRS for a tax break on their housing — just like the “Parsonage Allowance” that pastors receive. They didn’t get it, and their lawsuit over the matter is currently waiting for a decision from an appeals court.

Now FFRF is suing over a separate matter.

This one involves their charity arm, Nonbelief Relief, which has given away more than $590,000 over the past several years to assist disaster recovery efforts, help atheists trying to escape oppressive regimes, and support groups like Doctors Without Borders.

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Atheist Groups Respond to Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation to the Supreme Court

By Hemant Mehta

Here’s what atheist and church/state separation groups are saying about the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This post will be updated as more statements come in.

Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America:

The confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to our nation’s highest court is a supreme injustice. By voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, the Senate has compromised the integrity of the Supreme Court and imperiled the civil rights of the most vulnerable among us. Our decision to oppose Kavanaugh was taken after a serious consideration of his record, to the extent it was available, and how his rulings would impact secular Americans and the separation of church and state. Throughout his legal career, Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly issued rulings and opinions that convey a disturbing rejection of the constitutional principle of a separation between church and state. There is no reason to doubt that Justice Kavanaugh will bring this radical jurisprudence with him to the Supreme Court and issue rulings that erode the Establishment Clause, undermine civil rights, and further distort the principle of religious liberty. The damage done by these rulings will far outlast Justice Kavanaugh’s tenure on the Court or the political careers of the Senators who helped put him there.”

“One doesn’t even have to look too closely at Judge Kavanaugh when they recognize the unwavering support of the religious right. This well funded, extreme religious minority has proven time and time again that they do not care about values or the Constitution — they care nothing about the things that truly make America great. They care about their agenda and their agenda only, at all costs and at all expense. Our nation needs to wake up to the damning effects they have on our democracy and strip this minority of their political might.”

“The United States is still a democracy and its future will not be decided by any one judge’s rulings but by the votes of tens of millions of Americans. Those Senators who voted to confirm Kavanaugh must know they are supporting the theocratic agenda of an extreme religious minority at the expense of women, LGBTQ Americans, religious minorities, and nontheists. The Secular Coalition for America will ensure that voters do not forget which side they chose.”

 

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Tucker Carlson: Brett Kavanaugh Backlash is Due to a “Theocracy Run By Atheists”

By Hemant Mehta

During an appearance on FOX News’ The Daily BriefingTucker Carlson told host Dana Perino that the push to punish Brett Kavanaugh for a sexual assault he allegedly committed in high school amounts to an atheist theocracy. Because when you have no argument, you just make up random phrases to scare gullible viewers.

His argument goes like this: A Christian theocracy would probably involve conservatives punishing people for acts they deem immoral… therefore liberals going after the conservative Kavanaugh for anything he did in high school amounts to a “theocracy run by atheists.

If that makes no sense to you… well, now you know what it’s like to watch FOX News.

“I’m old enough … to remember when the left sincerely worried, or said they did, about the right turning this into some kind of theocracy and imposing its puritanical values on the rest of the country,” Carlson said…

“The irony, of course, is that they’re doing it right now. It’s a kind of theocracy run by atheists, where the minor, smallest peccadillos from your teen years are now disqualifying. Is this really the standard we want?”

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Atheist group files lawsuit against Sen. Jason Rapert on social media blocking

by KATV

A lawsuit has been filed against an Arkansas state senator for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution and state law when blocking people from his official social media accounts.

American Atheists filed a federal lawsuit claiming State Senator Jason Rapert violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments when blocking individuals, including four of the plaintiffs, from his official Twitter and Facebook accounts when they expressed differing viewpoints. The complaint also accuses Rapert of blocking plaintiffs due to their atheism.

American Atheists’ Legal and Policy Director Alison Gill says government officials can’t limit participation in public forums due to differing beliefs.

The complaint states plaintiffs were blocked when voicing criticism of his attacks on members of the LGBTQ community, the senator’s support of a bill to require the display of “In God We Trust” in all Arkansas public school classrooms and libraries, his support for a Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds and more.

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Turkey’s Atheism Association Will Shut Down After Membership Becomes Too Risky

By Hemant Mehta

Since opening an actual office in 2014, the Atheism Association in Turkey has given away soup to the homeless and called for the government to stop automatically designating every newborn child as “Muslim” on their birth certificates. They’ve also suffered setbacks that included their website being blocked by authorities and having to install a “panic button,” directly connected to the Istanbul police, due to death threats.

It’s been an uphill climb for the group in a nation where 99% of the population is Muslim… (though being declared Muslim from birth certainly inflates that number).

And now the group has been forced to shut down for good after outside pressure made the group’s continued existence untenable.

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The Campaign to Overturn Ireland’s Blasphemy Law on Oct. 26 Has Begun

By Hemant Mehta

On October 26, Irish citizens will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum and overturn their nation’s blasphemy laws once and for all.

It’s a long time coming. Article 40.6.1 of the Irish Constitution prohibits “publication or utterance” of blasphemous content, which is obviously in the eye of the beholder. It’s not just a remnant of older law, either. It’s been evoked in recent years to punish comedians who called a Catholic communion wafer “haunted bread” and questioned why a benevolent God would ever create something as awful as bone cancer in children. While they could have been fined up to €25,000 for their statements, both cases were dropped after international bad press.

But the looming threat remains a problem and that’s why, yesterday, Atheist Ireland launched their campaign to overturn the blasphemy law.

They’re pushing five main reasons citizens should vote “Yes” on the ballot.

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Freedom From Religion Foundation fires back at Roy Moore

By Paul Gattis

The Wisconsin organization that has opposed prayer in public places funded by government is fighting back at Roy Moore’s contention last week that there is nothing illegal about student-led prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the Foundation for Moral Law, saying that Moore is seeking to “establish Christianity as the paramount law of the land.”

It also outlines what it describes as errors of Moore’s interpretation of law and describes his efforts as “treasonous.” The letter, dated Tuesday, concludes, “We are sorry to see you continue your shameful and ignorant posturing.”

Moore, founder and president emeritus of Foundation for Moral Law as well as a 2017 candidate for U.S. Senate and twice elected as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, released his response to the FFRF in a letter dated Thursday.

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