Category: Church State Separation


Harry Potter is a militant atheist? Well, not the fictional character himself, but the actor who plays him.

From TVNZ:

Daniel Radcliffe – militant atheist

Daniel Radcliffe believes it is important to separate religion and education because he thinks sex lessons are important.

The 22-year-old “militant atheist” was brought up in a Christian/Jewish household and told Attitude magazine he’s not religious.

“I’m an atheist, and a militant atheist when religion starts impacting on legislation.

“We need sex education in schools. Schools have to talk to kids from a young age about relationships, gay and straight. In Britain it’s better – more of a conversation is being had.”

Apparently the faith of believers is so strong that they have to suppress secular voices and abuse governmental powers to reinforce religious privilege and favoritism in order to keep it intact:

Pennsylvania Town Rejects Atheist ‘There Are No Gods’ Banner in Holiday Display

Published December 03, 2011

| Associated Press

ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. –  A western Pennsylvania mayor refused to include a banner from an atheist group that says “there are no gods” as part of a holiday display that includes a Nativity scene, which has been erected annually on city property for decades.

Hundreds of people turned out to support the mayor’s decision to go ahead with the display Friday, which also includes symbols pertaining to Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and secular symbols, including Santa Claus, a snowman and a Christmas tree.

The city about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh added secular symbols to the display this year after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained last year that it amounted to a government endorsement of religion.

Seeking to head off a similar challenge, the mayor also invited the Madison, Wis.-based group to contribute something to the modified display, so the group mailed a sign that read: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Mayor Tony Court said he’s yet to receive the banner in the mail, but he refuses to add it when it arrives. “It violates the First Amendment. It’s endorsing atheism,” he said, adding that the crGeche “is a statue. It’s not a doctrinal statement.”

This mayor must have some moon-sized balls to actually invoke the First Amend ment in the name of religious suppression.

The tactics employed by the defenders of religious privilege: Never surprising, always (like their unfounded claims) unbelievable.

Man, I miss Zappa. Love him or hate him, few have brought the brutal – and necessary – honesty as forthright as he used to.

Oh, Christians in the U.S. have it so rough.

Everywhere they look, they see their “right” to flex their majority muscle and discriminate against non-believers and other non-Christians being assailed.

They whine about the “War on Christmas”, when, every year, Christmas positively dominates the social, popular and commercial culture throughout all of November and December.

They cry about gender and sexual orientation rights being “shoved down their throats” (the phrase they usually use – I’ll spare the Freudian analysis for now), going so far as to legislate their “right” to bully gay kids.

The problem with all of this is that none of these so-called “rights” are rights at all. They are the benefits Christians have traditionally received from preferential treatment resulting from their majority position of power and the subsequent stronghold Christianity has over American society and culture.

And now that their privilege is being challenged by increasingly vocal minorities of nonbelievers and members of other religions, who are calling for a more fair and level cultural playing field, some Christians are quick and vociferous in playing the hurt feelings card and drumming up false allegations of anti-Christian discrimination.

Take Mathew D. Staver, chairman of the right wing fundamentalist culture war organization known as the Liberty Counsel. According to Christian Today, he

said that the [American Humanist Association’s] campaign was a crass attempt at restricting the religious freedom of Christians passionate about Christmas. As the birthdate of Christianity, he said no other holiday deserved more public worship. […]

Staver said his organization fights censorship of the holiday’s Christian traditions with its “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign,” now in its ninth year. The initiative educates society and businesses on the Christian faith, he said, ensuring they keep its part in Christmas intact through litigation if they don’t recognize believers’ right to religious freedom.

“People either censor Christmas out of ignorance concerning religious law or they worry they may offend someone else,” Staver said. “Retailers, meanwhile, should not profit off Christmas while pretending it doesn’t exist.” […]

Staver countered that groups like AHA shouldn’t analyze Christmas given they lacked compassion for its spiritual basis. This fundamental separation, he said, meant that they often disrespected the rights of Christians practicing their faith.

“I think a campaign like this shows how bankrupt the AHA is by trying to offend people by secularizing a holiday like this,” Staver said. “They have a right to their own viewpoint but the timing is very inappropriate. It shows how out of step they are from the rest of society.”

So what horrific action did the American Humanist Association pursue to “restrict religious freedom”, to “censor Christmas out of ignorance” in such a “disrespectful”, “bankrupt”, and “inappropriate way?

Well, take a look:

That’s right, they simply asked people not to discriminate against atheists.

As with all things pertaining to religion: Simply unbelievable.

This story from the Mid Ohio Atheists (via Ophelia Benson, via Greta Christina) is the latest in the ongoing saga of American billboard companies (in this case the Lind Media Company – you can e-mail the Vice President here) impeding free expression by censoring atheist and secular messages:

We spent several weeks exchanging emails, planning locations, and reviewing the graphics for the Billboards.  In late October everything was ready to go.  They had the final Graphic, had done the mock ups and we had approved them.  Everything seemed to be going off with out a hitch and I was extremely pleased with the company.

Fast forward to today, November 22nd 2011.   This morning I recieved an email from the Vice President of LIND advising me of [their refusal to honor the agreement]. […]

I got a little sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  See I’ve always been an out spoken Atheist, as long as I’ve been an Atheist.  I’m use to people wanting to talk, argue, or save my soul, but I had yet to ever feel the sting of discrimination.  I swallowed the lump in my throat and sent an email back to the Maura S Siegenthaler asking her why they choose to wait till just before the Holiday when we had months of contact with their company and they had our graphics for weeks. I then attempted to call her but was told she was unavailable.  The following reply reinforced my initial gut feeling, it really was because we are Atheists spreading an Atheist message.

Please read the full post for more details. After you do, you may want to consider contacting the company to let them know how you feel about this. That’s what I just did.

Below is the text of the e-mail I just sent to Vice President of Lind Media Maura Siegenthaler (mss@lindoutdoor.com) in support of the Mid Ohio Atheists. I urge you to write to her as well, and you are welcome to copy my message, change it, or add to what I wrote as you like. More contact info for the company can be found at the bottom of the Mid Ohio Atheists post.

Dear Maura Siegenthaler

I’m writing to urge you and the Lind Media Company to reconsider your last minute refusal to honor your agreement with the Mid Ohio Atheists to put up two of their billboards. As you apparently do not hesitate to put up pro-religion billboards, the only plausible explanations for your action are either fear of backlash from a largely religious community and/or plain and simple bigotry against the non religious.

I hope, at least, it’s only the former.

While as a private business you are certainly within your rights to choose your content, and while you may not agree with non believers, refusing to put up a simple message by a group with a point of view, which harms noone and is a simple exercise in free expression as it pertains to religion, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, is extremely disappointing, disgraceful, and goes directly against the grain of the principles and rights the United States is founded upon.

I do hope you’ll reconsider.

Writing for the Christian Post, Joseph Perkins just put out an alarmist “Fear the atheists!” piece of tripe featuring the headline, “Ohio Church Under Attack by Atheist Group“.

Right off the bat, the poor, helpless Christ Cathedral Church is the innocent little victim “under attack” by the mean, bullying Freedom From Religion Foundation bad guys.

The most important thing to keep in mind through this story (and Perkins’ take on it) is that the opening “blow” in this “attack” was a simple exercise of freedom of speech by the FFRF, which was not specifically directed as a criticism of any particular church or religion at all.

It was, instead, a billboard with a very inocuous, positive atheist message reading:

“I can be good without God.” -Dylan Galos, Columbus student … atheist

If Perkins considers this to be an “attack”, he may be in need of a better dictionary.

Moving on, he begins his lament:

When Christ Cathedral Church in Columbus, Ohio had an atheist billboard removed from its property back in June, it thought it had heard the last from the billboard’s sponsor, the so-called Freedom From Religion Foundation.

By at once acknowledging that Christ Cathedral engaged in trying to censor (which is to say, restrict the freedom of speech of) the FFRF, while also  using the negative “so-called” epithet to imply that working to attain freedom from religion is unnecessary and/or not the true function of the FFRF, Perkins completely fails to grasp the irony of his own contradiction. Censorship by a religious institution is religion curtailing freedom, so the FFRF is doing the necessary, and living up to their name.

He proceeds to his second paragraph:

But the [FFRF] found another way to attack the church. It sicked the Franklin County, Ohio Auditor’s Office on Christ Cathedral, claiming that the church was required to pay property taxes on the land on which the billboard stood, because it was used for commercial purposes.

“Claiming”? Sorry, but it’s the law. Chapter 5709.07 of the Ohio State tax code, titled “Exemption of schools, churches, and colleges”, states it quite clearly:

(A) The following property shall be exempt from taxation:
[…]
(2) Houses used exclusively for public worship, the books and furniture in them, and the ground attached to them that is not leased or otherwise used with a view to profit and that is necessary for their proper occupancy, use, and enjoyment [my emphasis]

So, in just one headline and two short paragraphs, Perkins has already shown indifference to freedom of speech, brushed off the notion that freedom from religion is a valid pursuit (even while providing an example of religion attempting to restrict freedom), and displayed disdain for the law requiring religious institutions to pay taxes on profitable property.

I’d continue deconstructing Perkins’ petulant complaints line by line, but it would be much too tedious. However, I can’t overlook one more assertion he makes further down:

The billboard featured the smiling image of a local college student proclaiming the atheist message: “I can be good without God.” It seemed more than coincidental to some that the pictured atheist student was black, just like Christ Cathedral’s pastor.

Even after overplaying the hurt feelings card so heavily thus far, he just can’t help jumping the shark and leveling a false insinuation of racism.

I would say that Joseph Perkins should be ashamed of himself, but he obviously has no shame to begin with.

You can read the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s news release and see a picture of the billboard at their website here.

Tax the churches.

Both of these petitions are currently active on the White House website. If you’re an American who wants to let the Obama administration know you support the separation of church and state, it’s a good way to make your voice heard.

The Pledge of Allegiance is said every day in schools across America. It is a government sanctioned speech, and should remain neutral in matters of religion. In its current state, it supports the existence of God, which goes against several religions, and supports others. This bias should not be supported by the country according to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The currency of the United States currently contains the phrase “In God We Trust” on it. This was added in the 1950’s, and is unconstitutional. It supports one religion over another, and should be removed from all currency. It violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This phrase should be removed from created currency.
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