Correcting a Jefferson quote on separation of church and state

25 Aug 2012

Jason Torpy, President of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers, contacted me with my favorite kind of message: neither praise nor opprobrium nor even a random "howdy", but a friendly correction with the aim of making improvements. I take the correction with humble gratitude; I may not be right on a whole lot of things, but I do want to be. (Hence the atheism.)

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His message concerned a quote from Thomas Jefferson that I used in a series of "posters" contrasting quotations from parties for and againt the separation of church and state. The original quotes, from the second "poster" in my series: Readeth thou more

Signs of the End: Good news from the religion front

6 Jul 2012

Sometimes depression comes easily. News from the world of religion is too often unhappy, involving moneyed scandals, gender-related bigotry, abuse of members (or their children...), anti-secular antics, and, making all of that worse, a societal willingness to overlook such deeds precisely because religion is involved. As reminders of the harm that faith brings, I keep a growing list of story links at Revelations: Religion. Readeth thou more

Questival offers UK young adults an alternative to religious summer camp (Aug 3-5)

30 Jun 2012

The folks at the AHS – the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies (UK and Northern Ireland) – kindly sent word of the upcoming Questival event for young freethinkers, information that I'm happy to pass along. I'm not making any recommendation – it's the first I've heard of the event – but it looks great; if I were in the region, I'd certainly want to consider it for young friends and family! Readeth thou more

A piece of evidence in the "America is a Christian nation" debate

26 May 2012

This month, Norway took the wonderfully purifying step of officially separating church and state via consitutional amendment. While I suspect the divorce will be a happy one, sometimes break-ups can get messily weird. Take the United States, which wisely split up church and state well over 200 years ago – yet today is plagued by citizens who demand that the comfortably separated couple re-engage in sweaty embrace. (It's like some heavy-breathing neighbor phoning to insist that you and your ex get busy on the kitchen linoleum. Readeth thou more

Religions' tax-exempt status to come under scrutiny in Japan?

15 May 2012

Japan is not only one of the more atheist nations out there, it even has separation of church and state embedded in its Constitution in the clearest terms possible:

No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority. No person shall be compelled to take part in any religious act, celebration, rite or practice. The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity.

Clarifying Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs

7 May 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses, the people of my ex-religion, need to do a better job of getting their dogma understood by the public. For all the sect's doorstep proselytizing, folks always get the JWs' beliefs wrong.

I have no intent to defend any JW beliefs – they're as goofy as the dogma of any other faith – but I don't mind making corrections so critics at least address actual beliefs. In that spirit, I offer two corrections: Readeth thou more

Nominate a Constitutional and atheist hero for the Presidential Citizens Medal!

19 Apr 2012

ImagesA number of websites note that the US White House is taking nominations for the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal – and readers have been quick to respond with an awesome choice: Jessica Ahlquist, young defender of the American way, who successfully sued to have a Constitution-violating religious display removed from her public high school. Readeth thou more