Posted by Kimberly Winston 3 weeks 21 hours ago
Several atheist protests planned for Thursday outside Bangladeshi embassies and consulates were postponed in the wake of Wednesday’s building collapse that killed at least 244 people in that country’s capital, Dhaka.A coalition of secularist advocacy groups originally planned to rally in London and several cities in the U.S. and Canada over the arrests of four atheist bloggers who were charged with blasphemy in the officially Muslim nation.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 3 weeks 2 days ago
An international consortium of nonbelievers is planning rallies Thursday outside Bangladeshi embassies and consulates to demand the release of several Bangladeshi bloggers who were arrested on charges of blasphemy.The rallies are in support of four Bangladeshi men arrested earlier this month for “hurting religious sentiments,” a crime tied to an 1860 law that can carry up to 10 years in jail.The four men — all bloggers — staged a sit-in at a public square demanding a ban on the country’s largest Islamic political party; Islam is the official state religion in Bangladesh.
Posted by Caleb Bell, Kimberly Winston 4 weeks 21 hours ago
President Barack Obama praised Bostonians for their actions “in the face of evil” during an interfaith memorial service on Thursday for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.“You’ve shown us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion,” Obama said.The 90-minute service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross featured local political figures and religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions. Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley shared a greeting with the congregants from Pope Francis.“The Holy Father invokes God’s peace upon our dead, consolation upon the suffering and God’s strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response,” O’Malley said.Obama opened his remarks with Scripture, and quoted it throughout his speech.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 4 weeks 3 days ago
HOUSTON — Sunday mornings at Houston Oasis may look and feel of a church, but there’s no cross, Bible, hymnal, or stained glass depictions of Jesus. There’s also nary a trace of doctrine, dogma, or theology.But the 80 or so attendees at this new weekly gathering for nonbelievers come for many of the same reasons that others pack churches in this heavily Christian corner of the Bible Belt — a sense of community and an uplifting message that will help them tackle the challenges of the coming week, and, maybe, the rest of their lives.“Just because you don’t believe in God does not mean you do not need to get together in community and draw strength from that,” said Mike Aus, a onetime Lutheran pastor who is now an atheist and founder of Houston Oasis.“We are open to any message about life as long as no dogmatic claims are made.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 6 weeks 4 days ago
For someone who was once dubbed “the most hated woman in America,” Madalyn Murray O’Hair is getting a lot of love in this city she once called home. Ten years after her mysterious disappearance in August 1995, the legacy of activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair still influences atheists in America today. She was known for her role in the landmark 1963 Supreme Court decision in Murray vs. Curlett, which, combined with Abington vs. Schempp, ended prayer in public schools across the U.S. and turned her into the self- described “most hated woman in America.” She is depicted here in a Religion News Service file photo from the 1970s.New Jersey-based American Atheists, the group O’Hair founded here in 1963 to further the separation of church and state, is marking its 50th anniversary with a three-day convention that’s expected to draw more than 900 people in its former hometown.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 7 weeks 3 days ago
This Easter, Teresa MacBain will mark an anniversary that’s uncommon for an ordained minister — her first year as an atheist.Last March, MacBain, now 45, stood at a podium before hundreds of people in a Maryland hotel ballroom at the national convention of American Atheists and told them that, after a lifetime as a Christian and 15 years as a pulpit pastor, she had lost her faith.Her coming out was national news, and she expected it would cost her her position as pastor of a United Methodist church, and she expected she might lose some friends and family members. In the last year, she has lost all those things.But there have been gains, too, including a new career, the embrace of a new community that she had been taught to distrust and a newfound sense of confidence.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 8 weeks 4 days ago
What would an “atheist Lent” look like? A group of young nonbelievers are finding out, observing the Christian practice minus its religious context.They have given up alcohol, animal products, and various Internet and cellphone interactions. One has vowed to make a daily Lenten practice of telling those he encounters how important they are to him.But their observance of the 40-day period in which many Christians abstain from worldly desires in a bid to come closer to God has upset some atheists who say borrowing religious traditions is antithetical to nontheism.The exercise has also illustrated a divide in the nontheist community – between older atheists who see religion as inherently evil and younger atheists who are more open to interactions with religious belief.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 10 weeks 3 days ago
On a summer night in a Western town of flat fields and hazy sunsets, a young woman stood outside a Greyhound bus with a ticket in her hand and a backpack over her shoulder. Boarding the bus, she said later, would be the hardest thing she had done in her 18 years.Harder than saying a last goodbye to her mother, father, and five siblings that morning. Harder than the two years since as she tried to make a new life, alone, in a strange city.Now 20, she asked to go by the name Samya. If her true identity were known, Samya believes, her family would seek her out and possibly kill her. They would certainly try to persuade her — if not force her — to come home.Her parents, she said, think she is guilty of two serious crimes: She rejected a marriage arranged by her father, who came to the U.S. from the Middle East when Samya was an infant. And perhaps more serious to her parents: She has become an atheist.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 21 weeks 2 days ago
A new report on global religious identity shows that while Christians and Muslims make up the two largest groups, those with no religious affiliation — including atheists and agnostics — are now the third-largest “religious” group in the world.The study, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that more than eight in 10 (84 percent) of the world’s 7 billion people adheres to some form of religion. Christians make up the largest group, with 2.2 billion adherents, or 23 percent worldwide, followed by Muslims, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent worldwide.Close behind are the “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation or say they do not believe in God — at 1. 1 billion, or 16 percent. That means that about the same number of people who identify as Catholics worldwide say they have no religion.“One out of six people does not have a religious identity,” said Conrad Hackett, a primary researcher and demographer on the study. “But it is also striking that that overwhelming majority of the world does have some type of religious identity. So I think people will be surprised by either way of looking at it.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 21 weeks 3 days ago
A billboard bearing a positive message about atheism has been vandalized — again.A billboard posted in Chico, Calif., that originally read “Don’t believe in God? Join the club” was defaced on Dec. 12, less than a week after it appeared, with vandals removing the word “don’t.” The billboard was one of 12 purchased this month by a local chapter of the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR), a national organization that works to unite small, local groups of atheists and other freethinkers.They are the latest in a long line of billboards erected by atheist groups to draw ire, both locally and nationally. Every national freethought organization that has purchased billboards or bus advertisements in the last five years has reported some form of vandalism or protest.If the billboards attract negative attention, criticism, and vandalism, why do atheists — a group that polls repeatedly rank among the least-liked group in America — buy them? Are they worth the money and the ill will they cost the groups that buy them?
Posted by Kimberly Winston 21 weeks 4 days ago
The estranged son of a Kansas pastor famous for protesting the funerals of soldiers and AIDS victims has condemned his family’s plans to picket the funerals of the 26 people — including 20 children — who were killed when a gunman stormed a Connecticut elementary school.In the wake of Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., posted Twitter messages saying they would picket outside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The messages provided no information on the time of the planned picketing."Westboro 'God hates Fags' Baptist Church is planning to picket at Sandy Hook, to praise 'God's judgment,'” was posted by Margie Phelps, the daughter of Westboro leader Fred Phelps Sr. Her sister, Shirley Phelps-Roper, tweeted Saturday that the group would "sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment."
Posted by Kimberly Winston 23 weeks 2 days ago
A federal court in Indiana has rejected atheists' requests to preside at wedding ceremonies, saying only clergy or public officials are licensed to solemnize marriages.A lawsuit filed by the Indiana chapter of the Center for Inquiry argued that an Indiana law that requires marriages to be “solemnized” — made official by signing a marriage license — only by clergy, judges, mayors or local government clerks violates the Constitution.But Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled on Nov. 30 that marriage has religious roots. Therefore, government regulation of marriage is an act of religious accommodation — not endorsement — and protected by the Constitution.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 24 weeks 5 days ago
As the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard University, Chris Stedman coordinates its “Values in Action” program. In his recent book, Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, he tells how he went from a closeted gay evangelical Christian to an “out” atheist, and, eventually, a Humanist.On the blog NonProphet Status, and now in the book, Stedman calls for atheists and the religious to come together around interfaith work. It is a position that has earned him both strident -- even violent -- condemnation and high praise. Stedman talked with RNS about how and why the religious and atheists should work together.Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.Q: What does the term “faitheist” mean? Is it a positive label or a derisive one? A: It's one of several words used by some atheists to describe other atheists who are seen as too accommodating of religion. But to me, being a faitheist means that I prioritize the pursuit of common ground, and that I’m willing to put “faith” in the idea that religious believers and atheists can and should focus on areas of agreement and work in broad coalitions to advance social justice.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 26 weeks 1 day ago
A First Amendment watchdog group is suing the Internal Revenue Service for failing to challenge the tax-exempt status of churches whose pastors engage in partisan politicking from the pulpit.The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates total separation of church and state, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Western Wisconsin, where the 19,000-member organization is based.The lawsuit claims that as many as 1,500 pastors engaged in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” on Sunday, Oct. 7, when pastors endorsed one or more candidates, which is a violation of IRS rules for non-profit organizations.IRS rules state that organizations classified as 501(c)(3) non-profits — a tax-exempt status most churches and other religious institutions claim — cannot participate or intervene in “any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any political candidate.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 27 weeks 1 day ago
Rep. Pete Stark, (D-Calif.), the only openly atheist member of Congress, lost his race for another term on Tuesday.But nonbelievers will not remain unrepresented in the Capitol. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a former Arizona state senator, Mormon-turned-nontheist and a bisexual, has narrowly won her pitch for a House seat by 2,000 votes.“We are sad to see Pete Stark go,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, which gave Stark its Humanist of the Year award in 2008.“He was a pioneer for us, and by being open about his lack of a belief in God we hope that he has opened the door for people like Kyrsten Sinema and others that will come after her.”Stark, who turns 80 this year, is the dean of the California congressional delegation and has served Fremont, a religiously diverse community near San Jose, since 1972. He “came out” as a nonbeliever in 2007, and went on to win two re-election bids. But this time he faced recent redistricting and a fellow Democratic challenger, Eric Salwell, almost 50 years his junior. “I don’t think his lack of belief in a god had anything to do with the results of this election,” Speckhardt said. “The numbers were close.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 27 weeks 1 day ago
Last month, Lauren Anderson Youngblood, communications manager for the Secular Coalition for America, approached Broderick Johnson, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, as they both left a conference on religion and the election.The SCA is an umbrella group representing 11 nontheistic organizations. So who, Youngblood asked Johnson, could she reach out to with their concerns about civil rights, access to health care and education?“He said, ‘We don’t view you as a constituency,’” Youngblood said. “He said, ‘We don’t do outreach to that community.’”After Tuesday's election, that may soon change. According to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study released last month, “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation or do not believe in God — are the fastest-growing faith group in America, at 20 percent of the population, or 46 million adults.In addition, nationwide exit polls conducted Tuesday show that "nones" made up 12 percent of all voters — more than the combined number of voters who are Jewish, Muslim or members of other non-Christian faiths (9 percent), and only slightly smaller than the combined number of Hispanic Catholics and Black Protestants (14 percent).
Posted by Kimberly Winston 28 weeks 3 days ago
Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a non-religious family that's challenging the mandatory daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in their children’s classrooms.The family, who are secular humanists, claim that the phrase “under God” in the pledge is a violation of the state’s constitutional ban on religious discrimination.In June, a lower court ruled against the family, saying the required recitation of the pledge was not discriminatory because it did not uphold one religion over another. The family appealed, and will now gain a hearing from the state’s highest court.The battle to remove “under God” from the pledge has been a long and, so far, unsuccessful one within atheist circles. California atheist Michael Newdow unsuccessfully argued for its removal before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004.This time, the suit seeks protection under a state constitution’s equal protection measure, not under the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of the separation of church and state.“There is very little case law that precedes this,” said Bill Burgess, director of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, which is representing the plaintiffs. “The court will be making new law when it issues its decision.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 33 weeks 3 days ago
Hester Prynne would be so proud.The red letter “A” that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s heroine was forced to wear as a badge of shame in the classic novel The Scarlet Letter is now proudly chosen by atheists to wear on jewelry made from ceramic, silver, gold, and wood.Christians have their crosses and crucifixes, Jews their Stars of David, Hindus their oms, and Buddhists their lotuses. Atheists ask, why shouldn’t they and other nonbelievers have their own symbols as well?“It is the most recognized symbol in our community right now,” said Amy Roth, a Los Angeles atheist who makes ceramic "A" pendants for her “Surlyramics” jewelry line that she sells at atheist conventions and meetings, as well as online.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 34 weeks 19 hours ago
Cheerleaders at an East Texas high school are fighting their school district’s orders to stop using Bible quotes on their signs at football games.In August, cheerleaders at Kountze High School, a school with fewer than 500 students 30 miles north of Beaumont, Texas, began painting Bible verses on large paper signs football players burst through at the beginning of games.But this week, Kountze Independent School District Superintendent Kevin Weldon called for an end to the banners after consulting with a legal adviser at the Texas Association of School Boards.“It is not a personal opinion of mine,” Weldon told KHOU, a Houston television station. “My personal convictions are that I am a Christian as well. But I’m also a state employee and Kountze ISD representative. And I was advised that such a practice would be in direct violation of United States Supreme Court decisions.”That prompted the cheerleaders and their supporters to launch a Facebook page, “Support Kountze Kids Faith,” which attracted 34,000 members in its first 24 hours — more than 10 times the population of Kountze.Parents of at least three cheerleaders have hired an attorney and are considering suing the school district.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 34 weeks 4 days ago
Jacques Berlinerblau wastes no ink in his new book trying to flatter his fellow nonbelievers."American atheist movements, though fancying themselves a lion, are more like the gimpy little zebra crossing the river full of crocs," he writes in How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom. Ouch. "In terms of both political gains and popular appeal, nonbelievers in the United States have little to show. They are encircled by cunning, swarming [religious] Revivalist adversaries who know how to play the atheist card." Berlinerblau, a Georgetown University biblical scholar who teaches a course on secularism, wants to rescue that little zebra. But his plan may be a hard-sell with some atheists — he wants atheist groups to drop their black-and-white opposition to religion and its adherents in order to preserve the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion. "The gimpy zebra remark was a little goofing on this over-the-top chest-thumping that emerges from Movement Atheists," he said in an interview, referring to atheist organizations with political goals, like American Atheists. "They wildly overestimate their numbers. They tend to overestimate the efficacy of their activism. They underestimate how disciplined and organized their adversaries in the religious right are, too."
Posted by Kimberly Winston 36 weeks 3 days ago
[Editor's Note: David Niose is president of the American Humanist Association and vice president of the Secular Coalition for America, a group that lobbies on behalf of nontheist and secular Americans. In his new book, “Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans,” he charts the development and growth of the religious right and what he sees as the increasingly organized response from Americans who are committed to the separation of church and state. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.]Q: You write about the 1912 presidential election as one in which all four candidates were sympathetic to evolution, science and religious skepticism. Today, a presidential candidate favors evolution at his or her peril. What’s changed?A: What has changed is the environment of politics, particularly the level of political discourse. Thanks to the rise of the religious right, many candidates today actually emphasize their anti-intellectualism as a selling point to voters. Conservative Christians have always been part of the voter pool, of course, but only in recent decades have they been organizing and flexing their muscle as a voting bloc. Many candidates get mileage by pandering to conservative religion, by openly rejecting science and emphasizing their biblical literalist views.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 39 weeks 1 day ago
There were no red carpets, no paparazzi, no celebrities, and definitely no God at the recent annual Atheist Film Festival.Instead, there were more than a dozen films, long and short, about separation of church and state, freedom of religion (and no religion), the conflict between science and religion in public schools, and a couple hundred people eager to see them.“If we don’t do this, who will?" said festival organizer Dave Fitzgerald, as people picked up atheist-themed books and T-shirts at the Aug. 10-11 festival. “Atheists are not well-represented by Hollywood, and a lot of people don’t get any exposure to real atheist thought except through things like this.”Fitzgerald, who calls himself “a freelance heretic,” started the festival four years ago. His main criteria for including a film is that it shows at least one atheist figure in a positive light.“My motto is: Are they heretic friendly?" Fitzgerald said. “We are in a position where we can actually turn away movies because their hearts might be in the right place, but they may be stilted and preachy.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 39 weeks 4 days ago
Religiosity is on the decline in the U.S. and atheism is on the rise, according to a new worldwide poll.The poll, called “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism,” found that the number of Americans who say they are "religious" dropped from 73 percent in 2005 (the last time the poll was conducted) to 60 percent.At the same time, the number of Americans who say they are atheists rose, from 1 percent to 5 percent.The poll was conducted by WIN-Gallup International and is based on interviews with 50,000 people from 57 countries and five continents. Participants were asked, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?”The seven years between the polls is notable because 2005 saw the publication of The End of Faith by Sam Harris, the first in a wave of best-selling books on atheism by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and other so-called “New Atheists.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 41 weeks 4 days ago
For the second time in less than a year, the Gallup poll reports that a majority of Americans would vote for an atheist for president.The latest survey, from June, found that 54 percent of those asked said they would vote a “well- qualified” atheist into the Oval Office — the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 1958, when only 18 percent said they would back a nonbeliever.On the other hand, the survey showed that those who do not believe in God still come in behind every other group polled for, including gays and lesbians (68 percent) and Muslims (58 percent).Still, an imaginary atheist candidate passed the 50 percent threshold for the first time when Gallup asked the question in August 2011, so the trend is upward.“We have seen an enormous change over time in the willingness to vote for an atheist,” said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, which reports the numbers in its current newsletter.“But I think the numbers also remind us that this is a deeply religious country. That doesn’t mean we are all going to church on Sunday, but that having religion in your life is valuable to most Americans and I think that explains the resistance.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 43 weeks 23 hours ago
The atheist community has embraced the cause of an Indonesian man, Alexander Aan, who was beaten and jailed after denying God’s existence on Facebook and posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.The Center for Inquiry, a Washington-based humanist organization, launched a petition Tuesday (July 17) on behalf of Alexander Aan, a 30-year-old Indonesian civil servant currently serving a 30-month jail sentence for “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity,” according to the judge who sentenced him.The petition asks the Obama administration to pressure the Indonesian government for Aan’s release and for better protection of religious freedom in that country, the most populous Muslim nation in the world.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 43 weeks 3 days ago
For one hot August night, the St. Paul Saints, a Minnesota minor league baseball team, will become the “Mr. Paul Aints” in a game sponsored by a local atheist group.Dubbed “A Night of Unbelievable Fun,” the Aug. 10 game against the Amarillo Sox will include an auction of players’ special “Aints” jerseys, fireworks and a ceremonial first pitch by David Silverman, president of American Atheists.The letter “S” in all Saints signs and logos around the stadium will be covered, and there are planned references to Big Foot, UFOs, and other targets of the skeptical community, team officials said.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 44 weeks 21 hours ago
Nontheists — both male and female — have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment. Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM.The debate has had two major impacts — a call for cooler tempers and the immediate implementation of sexual harassment policies by all of the major nontheist organizations, both national and regional.No one is suggesting that all nontheist events are unsafe for women. But the controversy has members of the nontheist community, which prides itself on its embrace of rational thinking, asking whether they have a sexual harassment problem. And if so, what should be done?
Posted by Kimberly Winston 44 weeks 3 days ago
Dale McGowan is an author and executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a nontheistic charitable organization. He was recently enlisted to write “Atheism for Dummies,” the first book about nontheists from the “Dummies” series of books.He spoke recently with Religion News Service about religious doubt, what religious believers and atheists have in common, and what "dummies" need to know about atheism. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 45 weeks 4 days ago
In another sign of the emergence of nonbelievers in American society, the Secular Student Alliance, a national organization of more than 300 college-based clubs for atheists, humanists, agnostics and other “freethinkers,” is helping to establish clubs for high school students to hang out with other teens who share their skepticism about the supernatural.“I am hoping that atheist students having their clubs and religious students having their clubs will promote dialogue,” said JT Eberhard, director of SSA’s high school program. “I also hope it will let the atheist students know that you can be an atheist and its okay. You are still a good person. We want to say: Here is a place where you can feel that.”There were about a dozen such clubs at the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic school year, a figure that rose to 39 in 17 states by summer break. The clubs are student-led, with SSA providing information and guidance only upon a student’s request.Some clubs are in states with high levels of “nones” -- people who claim no religious affiliation -- such as New York, Washington and California. But some are in the buckle of the Bible Belt: North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas all have at least one high school with a club for atheists.And more are forming. Students at 73 different high schools have requested “starter kits” since January of this year, according to SSA.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 48 weeks 22 hours ago
How much money does the U.S. government forgo by not taxing religious institutions? According to a University of Tampa professor, perhaps as much as $71 billion a year.Ryan Cragun, an assistant professor of sociology, and two students examined U.S. tax laws to estimate the total cost of tax exemptions for religious institutions — on property, donations, business enterprises, capital gains and “parsonage allowances,” which permit clergy to deduct housing costs.Their article appears in the current issue of Free Inquiry magazine, published by the Council for Secular Humanism, an organization of nontheists. U.S. tax law grants religious groups and other nonprofits the exemptions because of their charitable nature.And while the authors do not claim theirs is a comprehensive or unbiased appraisal, their findings have raised eyebrows in the nontheist community, which has long sought to eliminate the tax exemptions on the grounds that they unfairly favor religious institutions.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 50 weeks 3 days ago
Atheists and others who don’t adhere to a religion often say they can be good without God. Now, three new studies appear to back them up.Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley conducted three experiments that show less religious people perform acts of generosity more from feelings of compassion than do more religious people. The findings were published in the current issue of the online journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.Their results challenge traditional thinking about what drives religious people to perform acts of kindness for others.“The main take-away from the research is that there may be very different reasons why more and less religious people behave generously, when they do,” said Robb Willer, an assistant professor of sociology at Berkeley and a co-author of the studies.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 1 year 1 week ago
Their issues are predominantly liberal and their constituency strongly leans Democratic, but a leading secularist group hopes a high-rolling Republican lobbyist is just who they need to open doors on Capitol Hill.The Secular Coalition for America on Thursday (May 3) hired Edwina Rogers, who has worked for two Republican presidents and four Republican senators, as its new executive director. The SCA has 11 member groups -- many of them officially at odds with Republican politicians and policies -- including American Atheists and the American Humanist Association.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 1 year 2 weeks ago
The Clergy Project is an online support network for pastors who have lost their faith and found atheism.The goal of the project is not to pull pastors from the pulpit, but to provide those who have already lost their faith with a safe place to anonymously discuss what comes next. The hope is they will eventually feel strong enough to put their families, friends and careers on the line and announce their atheism.“When you leave the ministry, you can lose all of that, “ said Dan Barker, a former minister, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a founder of The Clergy Project. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Who am I now?’ . . . . The Clergy Project is a place where their self-respect is restored.”
Posted by Kimberly Winston 1 year 2 weeks ago
As millions of Americans bow their heads next Thursday (May 3) for the annual National Day of Prayer, atheists, humanists and other nontheists will mark a day of their own.The National Day of Reason - or "NDR" in the shorthand of the nontheist community - will also be held May 3, part protest, part celebration and totally godless.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 1 year 7 weeks ago
Stripped of its supernatural elements, does religion have anything to offer atheists? What can nonbelievers borrow from the organizations, practices and rituals of believers -- without borrowing a belief in God?According to Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton, a lot.In his new book, Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion he outlines an array of things he contends religions get right and that atheists can adopt to create a better, richer secular society.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 1 year 8 weeks ago
Thousands of atheists and nonbelievers will gather this Saturday (March 24) on the National Mall in Washington for the "Reason Rally," a daylong event featuring speakers, music and comedy to promote secular values. The goal of the event is to "unify, energize and embolden secular people nationwide," said Jesse Galef, a Reason Rally spokesman. "For this many of us to come together is hopefully a sign of things to come," Galef said. "Greater organization, greater cooperation and greater awareness nationally of who we are." Organization and participation within the secular movement is growing. Atheists held their first mass gathering on the National Mall in 2002, with "The Godless March on Washington," an event that attracted 2,000 participants, according to news reports at the time. As many as 30,000 people are expected to attend this year's event.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 1 year 9 weeks ago
After more than a year of planning, atheists in the military will stage a public festival and rock concert celebrating their lack of religious beliefs at North Carolina's Fort Bragg, one of the largest U.S. military bases. Dubbed "Rock Beyond Belief," the event is believed to be the first of its kind to highlight "freethought" -- atheism, humanism and skepticism -- on a U.S. military base. Organizers hope the March 31 event will lead to broader recognition and support of nonbelievers in the armed forces, where they say they receive little support and often discrimination from an overly Christianized military.
Posted by Kimberly Winston 1 year 11 weeks ago
Now, a growing number of African-American nonbelievers are reaching out to others in their communities to help them confront these challenges. They are calling on atheists of all colors to make the fourth Sunday in February -- Black History Month -- a "Day of Solidarity with Black Nonbelievers."About 15 groups in as many cities -- Dallas, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles -- have scheduled events for Feb. 26. Some will share a meal, others will make formal presentations and discuss the role of African-American freethinkers in history. But the real goal is to let closeted black atheists know they are not alone.