CFI - LI News Archive

January 29, 2009

Back to CFI Community of Long Island homepage

CFI Community of Long Island's Gerry Dantone in Newsday's "Letters to the Editor"

Newsday, December 29,  2008

RICK WARREN MISSES MESSAGE
The selection of Rick Warren to deliver an invocation at Barack Obama's inaugural raises many issues.  But unfortunately the most important issue is being overlooked - the issue of the nature of morality itself and whether supernatural-based morality should be considered valid anymore.  Consider that Warren and those who agree with him that homosexuality is an "evil" and want to deny gay couples the right to marry do so for one reason only - their supernatural-based religious beliefs that hold that homosexuality is an abomination to their God.

We need to use our ability to reason to figure out what makes the world better or worse.  We need our love for each other for motivation.  Supernatural taboos are simply too arbitrary and capricious and it's time that we outgrew such magical and simplistic thinking.

http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/letters/ny-opltr295980971dec29,0,6086957.story

CFI Community of Long Island's Gerry Dantone in Newsday's "Asking the Clergy"

Newsday, October 18,  2008

Question: What did you think of Bill Maher's 'Religulous'?

Gerry Dantone, coordinator, Center for Inquiry Community of Long Island

I thought it was a good, funny movie, and I would recommend it. Before seeing it, I was wondering whether it would fairly represent the viewpoints and beliefs of those interviewed by Bill Maher. I think it did for the most part. I would like to know if any of the interviewees thought they were misrepresented - I suspect we'd hear about it if that were so. [U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas , and the Rev. Jeremiah Cummings both complained to the media this week that the project was misrepresented - though not necessarily their beliefs]. Maher was not making a movie about religious moderates. He was dealing with fundamentalists and literalists, those who believe that their scripture is literally true, which may comprise more than half of the American public. When it comes to religious beliefs, literalists and fundamentalists claim to believe in talking snakes, virgin births and other things that normally are found in fairy tales, beliefs that would be ridiculed by everyone if they were not religious in nature.

http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:xrGwVzm8uWkJ:www.newsday.com/topic/ny-lsfaith5888139oct18,0,5899248.story%3Ftrack%3Drss-topicgallery+source:newsday+%22gerry+dantone%22+religulous&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

CFI NYC's Dr. Austin Dacey's book promoted in "God Squad" column

Newsday, June 7 2008

http://www.tmsfeatures.com/tmsfeatures/subcategory.jsp?file=20080529ctngs-a.txt&catid=1709&code=ctngs

Q: This letter is long overdue; but after reading of Msgr. Tom Hartman's illness, I can't procrastinate any more. I'm a life-long "Suthun Baptist." When I first learned about the God Squad column, I was skeptical, expecting to see theological answers that were wishy-washy, watered-down, feel-good, the-devil-is-the-only-one-responsible. I soon realized I was wrong.

Your column is one of the first I read on Sunday afternoons. One surprise is how often I agree with you. Even when I don't agree, I respect your approach and the thought process you used to formulate an answer. Your answers combine theological expertise with insights based on experience and the practical realities of life.

When I discuss your column with others, I tell them it displays a constant theme: God is the master of the universe and there is a TRUTH. While Jews, Catholics and Protestants may have different opinions regarding that truth, there is still one truth. In some cases, the truth offers room for different individual positions. Sometimes, there's room for only one and we may disagree on what that position is.

Both you and Fr. Hartman have gained my respect and I'm confident that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is most pleased. Msgr. Hartman, please allow this "prodigal" Protestant to pray for you. Shalom and God bless you.

P.S.: My wife's spiritual journey has been more varied than mine: Methodist, Catholic, then Baptist, and she too enjoys your column. - R., via godsquadquestion@aol.com )

A: I receive many letters and though it may seem self-serving to include such a positive one, rest assured that I could have easily chosen another identifying the accommodations God has prepared for me in hell. The reason I chose this lovely missive from a Southern Baptist brother in faith is that it makes an important theological point I rarely get to make in such a direct way.

I do indeed believe God is the Creator and Master of the Universe, and I do indeed believe there is a moral truth in this universe. Such truth is not personal, subjective or relativistic. It's not just what any one of us happens to believe. Opinions that contradict this truth are not all equally valid.

Moral error is objectively and absolutely wrong, and moral virtue is universally correct. If, for example, one happens to believe that killing innocent people is morally justified, this is wrong-obscenely wrong-and is wrong whether the person correcting you is a Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist. Moral truth is the kind of truth we cannot (BEGIN ITALICS) not (END ITALICS) know. For some, the apprehension of the moral truth comes from faith, and for others it comes from unaided human reason, but the idea that we can't make a universally valid moral judgment about what someone else believes to be right and wrong is ridiculous, divisive and destructive of the moral fiber of our culture. It would mean that Hitler and Gandhi made equally valid moral choices.

I urge you to check out a new book by secular philosopher Austin Dacey : "The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life." Dacey disagrees with most religious opinions about the big ethical issues of our time, and I disagree with him. However, I strongly agree with him that it's wrong to reject an opinion about some moral issue just because the person who makes it is religious.

All of us, secularists and religious folks, must talk to each other and be prepared to give good reasons why we judge some act right or wrong. Saying there's just one truth in the world doesn't free any of us, religious or secular, from the responsibility to give good, sound, accessible reasons for our moral judgments. That's what Dacey believes, that's what I believe, and that's what the best religious thinkers I know believe...and it took a Southern Baptist to help me say it. Thanks.

Coordinator Gerry Dantone's response in "Asking the Clergy" in Newsday

Newsday, April 19, 2008

Gerry Dantone, coordinator
Center for Inquiry Community of Long Island, Huntington:

Question: Do We Have A Moral Responsibility To The Environment?

Humanists believe that all decisions and acts have an ethical component and that we cannot shirk our ethical responsibilities in favor of obedience to dogma or faith in a higher power; the responsibility remains ours. If we want to leave behind a better world for our children to live in, it almost goes without saying that we must take care of the planet. The religious often question why nonbelievers would make any sacrifice for others without a belief in God. The answer is because humanists care; it is innately human and natural for us to care about each other, and no magic need be invoked to explain why we care; natural selection explains it easily. Rather than praying for the food, water, peace and security from the God who never has supplied enough even to the innocent, humanists believe that a reasoned, scientific and compassionate approach to our problems is the best way for humanity to save itself.

Send faith questions you'd like us to pose to: Sylvia King-Cohen, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4250, or sylvia. king-cohen@newsday.com

Coordinator Gerry Dantone's letter to the NY Daily News

NY Daily News, April 17, 2008

Greenlawn, L.I.: Your April 15 editorial "Benedict the brave" said that "reason without faith" leads to "deadening of the soul." It's true that pure reason is insufficient basis for a moral system, but faith is not the missing ingredient. Caring - concern for oneself and others - is what's necessary, along with reason, to form a moral system with a goal of improving the well-being of humanity. It's known as humanism.

Gerry Dantone
Center for Inquiry Community of Long Island

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/04/17/2008-04-17_voice_of_the_people_for_april_17_2008.html

CFI Community of LI's Gerry Dantone on the Boy Scouts

Newsday, March 17, 2008

Urge Scouts to reject bigotry

In " Texas -size defense of Scouting values" [Opinion, March 10], Raymond Keating attempts to defend Boy Scout "values." He cites two such "values" that were extolled in a recent book by Texas Gov. Rick Perry ; first, Scout bylaws state that "no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God," and second, that a homosexual who makes his sex life a public matter is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys.

Amazingly, Keating does not even attempt to explain why these two "values" are no more than bigotry against nonbelievers and gays.

I would hope that everyone urge the Boy Scouts to improve their "values" by rejecting their supernatural-based bigotry and instead focus on humanistic values that are to be judged by whether they improve our lives and the lives of others.  Gerry Dantone, Greenlawn

Editor's note: The writer is coordinator of the Center for Inquiry Community of Long Island and founder of Long Island Secular Humanists.

http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/monday/opinion/ny-e5615832mar17,0,6183455.story

Secular Society and Its Enemies

CFI-NYC's 2007 conference, The Secular Society and Its Enemies , drew more than 400 people to the New York Academy of Science's space at 7 World Trade Center this past weekend for a SOLD OUT conference.  Richard Dawkins, Alan Dershowitz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Peter Singer, Wendy Kaminer, Ann Druyan, Vic Stenger, Susan Jacoby , and a host of others spoke and mingled with attendees, while Christopher Hitchens appeared in a special video interview.  DVD and internet videos are planned.  More information will appear on CFI-NYC's web site soon.

The God Squad, Again

A Letter to the Editors of Newsday, printed Friday, October 12, 2007: 
Go to
http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-
opletfri5409361oct12,0,6505377.story

Rabbi Gellman's response to an atheist reader was a "nice"-sounding insult.  Would he have written "even Muslims" if the writer had been a Muslim? Or "even Jews" if the writer had been Jewish?  A more fair response would have been that people should be considered moral if they behave morally, period, not because of their possessing any supernatural beliefs.

Gerry Dantone
The writer is coordinator of the Center for Inquiry Community of Long Island.


Special Report: Anti-gay Activism and the Misuse of Science:An example of how science can be perverted to support ideologically motivated social activism and harm humanity; the victims in this case: homosexuals

Press release, May 2007

New report released by the CFI Community of Long Island:

Go to: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/uploads/attachments/Anti-gayActivismandtheMisuseofScience_1.pdf

Gerry Dantone of the CFI Community of Long Island has authored a report that investigates a campaign being waged by Frank Russo Jr. and the American Family Association of New York against gay marriage, civil unions and adoption.  In a December 2006 email sent to Mr. Dantone, Newsday, David Kilmnick of Long Island Gay & Lesbian Youth, the NY Daily News, Cablevision and others, Mr. Russo argued that there were numerous studies supporting his belief that homosexuals were more likely to molest children than non-homosexuals and cited eight studies specifically in the email.

To summarize the findings in the CFI Community of Long Island report, five of the eight authors whose "studies" are cited by Mr. Russo have issued disclaimers against their use for the understandings and purposes promoted by the AFA of NY; two other studies cited contained no data on adult homosexuals and their citations by Mr. Russo were totally inappropriate; the last remaining study was very poorly constructed and should not have been used to represent findings or comparisons for the general population. In fact, there was some sentiment expressed by some of the cited researchers for the opposite finding than that promoted by the AFA of NY.

For example, Mr. Russo cited Bell & Weinberg of the Kinsey Institute, yet these researchers have written about others who have used their data in the past to generalize about adult homosexuals, saying, "to use our figures to estimate differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals across the board in the general population is ludicrous."

Another researcher cited by Mr. Russo, Dr. William Marshall, exclusively emailed Mr. Dantone, saying, " the paper that is cited in fact has nothing at all to do with the issue of gays so it is entirely an invented quote .  I am very angry that my name has been used to justify homophobic nonsense .  In fact the evidence from the literature makes it clear that gay men are, if anything, less at risk to molest children than are heterosexuals.   You may feel free to place this note to you on whatever website you wish.  Good luck with your very valuable work.  Bill (W. L. Marshall, O.C., and PhD.)"

The entire report, including three exclusive disclaimers from the cited authors can be found in the June 2007 issue of the CFI Community of Long Island INQUIRER, which can be downloaded as a .pdf file for free via an easily found link on the Community's website, www.centerforinquiry.net/li .

Gerry Dantone is a founder of Long Island Secular Humanists which has merged with the Center for Inquiry to become the CFI Community of Long Island for which he is now the coordinator.  He is also the editor of the CFI Community of Long Island INQUIRER.  The purpose of the Center for Inquiry is to promote and defend reason, science, and freedom of inquiry in all areas of human endeavor.  The Center for Inquiry is a transnational nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that encourages evidence-based inquiry into science, pseudoscience, medicine and health, religion, ethics, secularism, and society.  Through education, research, publishing, and social services, it seeks to present affirmative alternatives based on scientific naturalism.

Atheists' happy non-holidays

BY JENNIFER BARRIOS
Newsday Staff Writer

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-liath1222,0,957879.story?coll=ny-top-headlines
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-liath1222,0,6126239,print.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

December 22, 2006

It's hard for an atheist to escape the holidays.

Christmas carols play in the local drugstores, and Christmas lights hang across storefronts and from the branches of front-yard evergreens. Hanukkah menorahs burn brightly in windows.

But atheists, who do not believe in the existence of any deity, have found ways to look at the bright side of the onslaught of religiosity during this holiday season. And for atheists, who make up an estimated 11 percent of the American population, December's not such a bad thing.

Many atheists, who came to atheism later in life, grew up in homes where Christmas or Hanukkah was celebrated and see the holidays as a time to simply be with family. Others have their own December rituals, including celebrating the winter solstice -- the shortest day of the year, which was yesterday.

"I usually go with my family and we do the Christmas tree," said Jose Morales, 45, a Manhattan researcher and "agnostic leaning toward atheist."

Morales said that except for an occasional prayer, the experience is mostly about family.

"We don't beat each other over the head with this stuff," he said.

Sean Malone, an atheist whose family also celebrates Christmas, complete with a special Christmas Eve meal featuring foods from a different country each year, said he prefers to view Christmas in a historical context -- as a winter celebration with pagan influences.

"It's a lovely time to be with your family, your friends, and to have a party when the weather's really bad," said Malone, 23, a graduate student studying music at New York University who calls himself a lifelong atheist.

Some atheists, like Gerry Dantone of East Northport, have their own celebrations during this time of year.

"We do celebrate the solstice," Dantone said.

His house features a "solstice tree," and he and his wife gave their two children, ages 12 and 14, solstice gifts.

Dantone also identifies himself as an agnostic and a humanist, a group that adheres to a nonreligious moral and ethical code.

He said his organization, the Center for Inquiry, Long Island Community, held a winter celebration this year at the Plainview public library.

For Josh Karpf, founder of New York City Atheists, there's definitely a bright side to this time of year.

"The food is absolutely fantastic around the religious holidays," Karpf said.

The 40-year-old Brooklyn resident said he thinks most atheists don't have a problem with the holidays.

"Some get curmudgeonly and Grinchy about the commercial pop-culture omnipresence of religion this time of year, but religious people complain just as much about repetitive songs and crowds," Karpf said.

Morales said he takes the holidays in stride.

"Why get offended at something that is super-prevalent and that people have the right to do?" he asked.

If there's one thing that does bother Karpf about the holidays, it's that the good tidings seem to get packed away with the tinsel come January.

"It seems that being good to each other and doing good work shouldn't be limited to just this holiday period," Karpf said.

Prayers, and other offerings

BY CAROL EISENBERG
Newsday Staff Writer
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-lipray044728645may04,0,388852,print.story?coll=ny-linews-headlines
May 4, 2006

As the Rev. Roy Kirton prays for President George W. Bush in a Copiague service today marking the National Day of Prayer, a small band of nonbelievers will be embarking on an alternative observance.

They're calling it the National Day of Reason, and they're asking atheists, agnostics and free thinkers to demonstrate what they call "the supremacy of reason" by donating blood from 4 to 7 p.m. today.

"We were looking for a positive alternative to prayer, something that would reflect the life-affirming ideas of nonbelievers," said Kenneth Bronstein, president of the New York City Center for Atheism, one of several groups supporting the blood drive. "At the same time, we want to let America know that there are millions of us who do not pray."

Bronstein said he had no idea about how many might give blood. "Working with atheists is like trying to herd cats," he acknowledged.

Not so with supporters of the National Day of Prayer, who say they expect about 5,000 people to attend 23 events organized in evangelical churches throughout the New York area, from Bay Shore to Brooklyn, according to New York area coordinator Beverly Cook.

The national event dates to a 1952 resolution in Congress. In recent years, the day has been embraced primarily by evangelical Christians, with this year's effort headed by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family chairman Dr. James Dobson, a leader of the religious right.

"At a time when so many principles found in Scripture have been rejected by society, it's all the more vital that God's people stand firmly in defense of the precepts He's laid out in His Word," Shirley Dobson said.

Nonbelievers say they have no problem with people praying, even if they do not personally believe it works. But they say they do object to what they see as government intrusion into the private sphere of religious worship.

"The government should not be sponsoring religious prayer - any more than it should be sponsoring a day to oppose religious prayer," said Gerry Dantone of Huntington, coordinator of the Center for Inquiry on Long Island, a group also supporting the blood drive.

But that argument carries little weight with the organizers of the National Day of Prayer, many of whom see the country's Christian heritage as the key to its vitality.

Kirton, pastor of Circle of Love Ministry, a small, evangelical church in Copiague that is hosting an event tonight with two other local churches, asserts that belief in God - and in the efficacy of prayer - are foundational values of America.

"This country was built on traditional values," he said, "and one of those is prayer. We pray for anyone who's in office - Democrat, Republican or independent. It has nothing to do with politics. It's about humanity."

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

God Squad "Apologizes"

Tribune Media Services 3/23/06

http://www.tmsfeatures.com/tmsfeatures/subcategory.jsp?file=20060323ctngs-a.txt&catid=1709&code=ctngs

(From the God Squad) TO OUR READERS:

Recently, some secular humanists challenged us to a debate. The note we sent them appears below. This closes the matter for us.

For those who suspect from our chosen calling that we are religious, we plead guilty. We are religious not just because we inherited our faiths. We both believe religion takes us closer to the truth than any secular philosophy. This conviction does not constitute bigotry, nor is it intolerance. It is faith.

However, it's also a part of our faith to apologize to anyone we've inadvertently offended, so we apologize to all atheists for any feelings of hurt they may have gleaned from our faith in God, and for our belief that faith in God is the most secure foundation for ethical thinking and for the protection of the dignity of all people, whom we believe, with a complete faith, are made in the image of God.

TO SECULAR HUMANISTS:

Thank you for your offer to debate which, regrettably, we must decline. Tom is very ill with Parkinson's disease, and Marc has no inclination to appear without him. You also invited us to debate on a Friday night, which is the Jewish Sabbath.

However, let us try to disabuse you of the impression you may have wrongly garnered from our writings. This is what we both believe:

1. We believe that atheists can absolutely be moral people.

2. We believe that every coherent ethical theory must be able to universalize its ethical imperatives.

3. We believe that there are secular and religious ways to universalize ethical theories.

4. We ground our ethical theories in a natural rights understanding that provides both religious and rational justification for ethical imperatives.

We endorse any person who is working for the betterment of humankind, and we condemn anyone who uses either religious or secular ideologies to oppress and exploit people.

We hope this clears up any misunderstanding, and though we cannot ask that God bless you for fear of offending you, we offer our best wishes for your continued work for goodness in our broken world. - Marc and Tom

(Send QUESTIONS ONLY to The God Squad, Telecare, 1200 Glenn Curtiss Blvd., Uniondale, NY 11553; post them on the God Squad Web site: http://www.askthegodsquad.com/ ; or email them ; godsquad@telecaretv.org . )

© 2006 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

 "God Squad' challenged Call it "The Morality Smackdown."

The Buffalo News

http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20060311/1028983.asp

The Center for Inquiry, a worldwide organization of secular humanists with main offices in Amherst, has had just about enough of what they consider atheist bashing by the column-writing duo known as "The God Squad." Their column runs on Saturdays in The Buffalo News.

The humanists have demanded a debate. The center's Long Island branch wrote a letter in February, challenging Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Tom Hartman, who are based in Uniondale on Long Island, to debate the question, "Is God necessary for morality?"

Nathan Bupp, a spokesman for the center, said humanists were concerned by the column's "bigoted attitude toward nonbelievers."

The center wants a debate April 21. "The God Squad" hasn't replied to their letter or to calls from The News.

The "God Squad" Challenged to Debate by the Center for Inquiry, Long Island Community

February 16, 2006

Gerry Dantone, Austin Dacey, and the Center for Inquiry - Long Island Community are formally issuing a challenge to the God Squad - Rabbi Marc Gellman and Father Tom Hartman - to debate the following: "Is God necessary for morality?"

The challenge comes after numerous syndicated "God Squad" columns have been published nationwide that contend that without God there is no reason to be moral, or worse, that go beyond theological arguments to intentionally defame and denigrate non-believers.  Rather than rioting over these insults, or demanding that their freedom of speech be curtailed, most humanists would prefer to rationally debate the merits of their accusations.

The Center for Inquiry - Long Island Community would happily sponsor a debate with the Intellectual Ninja and his partner at any site at a date of the God Squad's choice, preferably videotaped for future Public Access TV viewing, although we have preliminarily have set aside Friday, April 21, 7PM at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library as a suggested date & site .  We await their answer.

(See the whole press release.)

(See the challenge.)

Explaining Humanistic Ethics in the Albany Times Union

http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=450862&category=LETTER&BCCode=&newsdate=2/15/2006

Ruvain Avraam's Jan. 20 letter demonstrated a profound ignorance of both humanism and moral theory. In a nutshell, Mr. Avraam claimed, "If there are no absolutes ... how dare we say that the Nazis were wrong for killing millions of people?" Of course, Mr. Avraam would probably have everyone adopt his personal opinion of an absolute morality, just as Hitler also demanded. The problem then becomes, obviously, the fact that absolute moralities have no relationship to human well-being -- they are to be obeyed whether or not they are good for us. If they are absolute and God-given, we cannot question them, even if they call for the extermination of a peoples -- such as Jews.

Humanistic morals and ethics are derived not from thin air or wishful thinking, as are religious moral systems, but instead from our natural human concern for the plight of others -- in other words our love for our fellow humans. It is entirely natural for us, as it is for other higher (and nonreligious) animals, to love our children, is it not?

Extending our circle of concern to humanity itself is the essence of humanism and is indeed the only rational basis for a moral system. It is not claimed to be a perfect system, because humans themselves are not perfect, but it is an attempt to do our best.

What should one prefer -- one of the many "absolute" arbitrary and capricious moral systems dependent on believing in an invisible omnipotent being, or a moral system based on loving your fellow human?

GERRY DANTONE (coordinator, CFI-LI Community)

'God bless America' signs in Long Island

Gerry Dantone, CFI Community of Long Island Coordinator
CNN, Paula Zahn Now, October 17, 2005:

"God bless America" seems like an innocent, patriotic phrase, so why is it sparking such anger in one community on New York's Long Island?" [Transcript of segment]

More on the "God bless America" controversy:

The Town of Babylon

Town Hall Banner: sign of trouble? [ The Amityville Record] and [The Babylon Beacon]

Supervisor denies request to pull banners [Newsday]

'God Bless' banners fuel hell of fight [ New York Daily News]

ADF: "God Bless America" signs outside town hall in New York should stay put [Alliance Defense Fund]

God Bless America' signs stir atheist protest [World Net Daily]

An AP story was picked up by WNBC (NY), The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy , 1010 WINS , WCBS Newsradio 880 , Staten Island Advance , The Buffalo News , Duluth News Tribune , ABC7 (Chicago), Positive Life Radio , American Family Association , The Path CDR Radio Network . and AgapePress .

Asking Advisors: What role should faith play in finances?

Newsday, August 13, 2005

Gerry Dantone, of Greenlawn, a broker at Metro Commercial and Business Brokers Inc. in Mineola and coordinator of the Center for Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism, Long Island:

Supernatural beliefs obviously have no role to play in planning one's finances. There is no evidence to suggest that gods are helping or hurting the pious in making investment decisions. However, ethics should play a role in every decision that we make, and financial planning is no exception. One must consider whether a person could ethically invest in a company whose products are dangerous or in a company, for example, that discriminates against gays."

Asking Advisors: What role should faith play in finances? [Newsday (Paid archives)]

Talking religion

Gerry Dantone, CFI Community of Long Island Coordinator
New York Daily News, July 5, 2005

Voice of the People section

Greenlawn, L.I.: I'm impressed that Rush & Molloy had the courage to actually mention Xenu in their June 30 item about Tom Cruise. For all the talk about Scientology lately, you practically never read anything about Scientologists' actual beliefs.  At the same time, it would be even better if ALL supernatural and paranormal beliefs were held up to the light of day.  After all, how much stranger is the idea of Xenu than the ideas of virgin births, bodily ascensions into heaven, 72 virgins in paradise, talking snakes and the seven-day creation of the universe?

Talking religion [New York Daily News

Gerry Dantone on Fox News!  March 25, 2005

Go to:  http://www.newshounds.us/2005/03/25/beware_the_garden_bunny.php

From News Hounds:

After yesterday's Schiavopalooza, today (3/25) on FNL it was back to the usual whipping up fear with ALERTS sprinkled on nearly every story (child abducted! roof collapsed! danger at petting zoos!). Uma Pemmaraju was in for Brigitte Quinn, & Rick Folbaum covered for David Asman. And FNL trotted out that old stand-by, the poor persecuted Christians, in a laughable version of the "we're under attack from atheists" scenario .

There was the obligatory political spin:

At 11:26am (ET) Pemmaraju showed a clip of CRice speaking in Beijing, said she's a "major presence on the world stage" & that she has a "great deal of support from foreign leaders", then interviewed Ed Rogers (former aide to GHWBush). Rogers said Rice is the "most powerful woman in world right now", Pemmaraju contrasted RIce's "close relationship" with GWBush vs CPowell's, & Rogers wrapped up with an ode to Condi, calling her "attractive ... articulate ... single ... powerful ... compelling world leader."

At 11:47am Jonathan Hunt reported that some of the Volcker Report has been leaked to the Wall St Journal [comment: & tried, as usual, to make it sound like the end of the world]

There was a piece of fluff:

At 11:54am Pemmaraju interviewed Robert Caploe (exec editor, Ladies Home Journal) re a poll that magazine did about women & spirituality.

But the piece de resistance (sorry, can't seem to do diacritical marks with this software):

At 12:24pm Folbaum interviewed Jerry(sic) Dantone (Long Island Secular Humanists) & Robert Knight (director, Cutlture & Family Inst). Knight immediately started ranting about a "cultural lobotomy" to "make sure we forget where we come from", called it an "attempt to make us forget our Christian heritage" & even dragged in poor Terry Schiavo. When Dantone pointed out that the "Easter bunny" was originally a pagan symbol co-opted by Christians, Knight lost it, & started yelling about how Christ came as a gift to us, so we give gifts to our children & threw out a reference to the "Soviet model." Since Folbaum didn't even attempt to exercise any control, Dantone finally interrupted to say that the "Easter bunny is not offensive, but that is." There was some more yelling from Knight & some attempt to counter from Dantone but, again, Folbaum did nothing to control the discussion, simply ending the interview.

Comment: Folbaum never gave any real background on this story, & when Dantone tried to do so, both Folbaum & Knight talked over him. The Garden Mall (in The Gardens of the Palm Beaches, FL) this year used "Garden Bunny" instead of "Easter Bunny" for their Easter egg hunt. Nearby malls used Baxter the Bunny, Peter Rabbit, the Easter Bunny & no rabbit at all. The mall management that chose "Garden Bunny" apparently thought it was a nod to the multiculturalism of their community that would appeal to consumers & that played well on the name of the mall.

Also, note that the Easter egg hunt in question was held the weekend of March 5-6, the story was written up in the Palm Beach Post on March 11, & FNL waited until March 25 (which just happens to be Good Friday) to "cover" it -- even after Sean Hannity frothed at the mouth about it on March16 (see my colleague Deborah's post about that). Coincidence?

The O'Dantone Factor in the Improper

Go to: http://www.theimproper.com/feb05/index.asp?id=feb05#

Gerry Dantone, CFI Coordinator, parodies O'Reilly in Long Island's monthly magazine, the Improper.  February 2005.

Back to CFI Community of Long Island homepage