November 10, 2014
Litigation always carries risk – first of all, the risk of losing one’s case, but also the risk that a court decision will bring unintended consequences. On October 30, 2014, the American Humanist Association had what may prove to be a similar experience. In American Humanist Association v. United States of America, a federal district court in Oregon ruled that a prisoner had a valid legal claim when he alleged that prison officials refused to authorize a humanist study group. So far, so good. However, in reaching this conclusion the court bizarrely ruled that secular humanism is a religion, when the nature of secular humanism was never even an issue in the case. Of course, the judge may have been persuaded to reach this conclusion because in its arguments to the court the AHA vigorously contended that humanism is a religion, and made no effort to distinguish its brand of humanism from secular humanism.
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September 02, 2014
FREE INQUIRY columnist Greta Christina wrote a great essay for her other column (over at THE HUMANIST) about issues associated with treating transgender people with respect. (No idea whether it's online, but the column "Trans People and Basic Human Respect" is on pages 38-39 of the new September-October issue.) ... At one point Christina writes that some transgender people "choose to be identified with the gendered pronouns 'he' and 'she,' while others prefer new gender-neutral pronouns like 'zie' and 'hir' or use 'they' as a singular pronoun." I'm down with all of that except the last bit. Using "they" as a singular pronoun ... strikes me as going one step too far, because it unnecessarily degrades the clarity of our language in regards to number.
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August 06, 2014
Writing from Tel Aviv, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman today surveyed the current Israeli-Gaza war and sighed, "More and more, this is becoming a religious conflict." Becoming, Mr. Friedman? Really? The seemingly-perpetual crisis in the Middle East has been a religious conflict -- not totally, but significantly (and often principally) since its beginnings. And all three Abrahamic faiths bear guilt, in my view.
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July 18, 2014
Rank-and-file Christians seem to be less concerned about the environment than other Americans -- and also, less concerned than their pastors think they are.
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July 01, 2014
Not since Mick Jagger promoted the upcoming Monty Python reunion concert by complaining about old stars from the 60s who just endlessly rehash their own stuff (OK, that was earlier this week) has anyone displayed mastery of dry British humor like U. S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr.
March 18, 2014
It's been a vicious winter; nonetheless progress continues toward the installation of the all-new T. M. Scruggs Museum Interior. Herewith, some progress photos.
February 21, 2014
From time to time I'll flag classic articles from back issues of FREE INQUIRY -- pieces that are worth another read today if you keep your physical back issues. If you're a current FI subscriber, you can also read the article online (link at bottom of this post).
From the Summer 2002 issue (Volume 22, No. 3), Bible scholar Robert M. Price limns the difference between religious and secular humanism about as elegantly as one can.
February 21, 2014
2014 will be an epic year for the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, New York. Last year we challenged our donors and friends to raise $70,000 for a long-needed redesign of the museum interior. They exceeded the target by more than $20,000. We're well into the redesign process. The Museum will open in May with all-new exhibits and expanded promotion, and in August we'll have an Ingersoll-themed mini-conference in western and central New York State. For the full story see the link at the bottom of this post!
February 05, 2014
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child savaged the Vatican today, in a report that accused the worldwide Roman Catholic Church of "systematically" allowing priests to rape and otherwise sexually abuse tens of thousands of children -- and then to evade responsibility for their acts -- over multiple decades. In one sense, this is only a capstone for a scandal that's been erupting in country after country for almost three decades. But freethinkers shouldn't allow the fact that this scandal has been grinding on for so long to blind them to the sheer fact of what a huge, even extraordinary development it represents.
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January 03, 2014
Planetary Society director and forever "Science Guy" Bill Nye has apparently agreed to debate young-earth creationist Ken Ham on February 4th at Ham's sprawling Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. At least Ham says so on his website, and I haven't seen a denial from the Nye camp yet. Opinions are mixed on this, and mine are too -- there's a very real risk that Nye will shine a fresh spotlight on a fading evangelist whose museum has lately been grasping at straws to keep its attendance numbers up. But it's sure to make for great theater.
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