Humanists Face Off Against SCOTUS — My Latest for Splice Today

Earlier this month, the American Humanist Association (AHA) announced that the US Supreme Court will hear their case against the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, MD. The 40-foot tall cross is a World War I memorial that the AHA says is an explicitly Christian symbol on public ground, making it not only a church/state separation violation but also a slap in the face to non-Christians who served their country. The AHA’s legal counsel, led by senior counsel Monica Miller, first filed a complaint against the Peace Cross in 2014, and the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the cross was unconstitutional. However, according to the AHA, a month later both the government and American Legion separately filed petitions to the SCOTUS to overrule the decision. Now the Supreme Court has to face a case that, as the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Andrew Seidel recently wrote, “could bring down the wall” separating church and state.

According to Seidel, there are only two possible reasons why the Supreme Court decided to take the case. The first is that conservative justices welcome such a controversial case because, he explains, SCOTUS’ “solid conservative majority is ready to begin checking items off the Federalist Society wish list.” The second is the conservative justices don’t think there’s anything wrong with a cross on government property and doesn’t think the cross is even a Christian symbol. “If this is true,” Seidel writes, “then those conservative justices essentially do not believe that the Constitution guarantees anything like the separation of state and church currently enjoyed by people in the United States. The justices will have bought into the Christian nationalist worldview that helped carry Donald Trump into office and will do untold damage to our republic and the principles for which it stands.”

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A Secular Bangladeshi Blogger Fights for His Life — My Latest for Splice Today

While the murder of Jamal Khashoggi brought more attention to Saudi Arabia, it’s not the only country where writers are in danger. Secular humanist bloggers in Bangladesh are often murdered by radical religious extremists simply for promoting secular humanist values online. One such blogger currently fighting for his life is Md. Sazzadul Hoque, a 21-year-old man who was forced to flee to India due to threats against his life. “I now fear for my life,” he recently told The Times of India. “I could also be killed in India by fundamentalists who support the goings on in Bangladesh… I have nowhere to go.”

Raised in a conservative Muslim household, Hoque began questioning his religious beliefs and started blogging about secular humanism in 2016. A year later on Facebook, he publicly announced his atheism, and while the post went viral, his account was suspended and sparked countless death threats. “People who were my best friends are my worst enemies now,” Hoque told the Times of India, “and would turn me over to the fundamentalists at any time.” He tried to seek shelter in Bangladesh, but to no avail. After getting kicked out of college, he fled to India with a tourist visa in May of 2017. As he recently told the Press Trust of India (PTI), “Even now, I keep receiving threats on Facebook, but the situation here is not as fearful as it is in my country.”

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Will The Rainbow Wave Increase Bisexual Visibility? — My Latest for INTO

Last Tuesday’s midterm election was a watershed moment for many LGBTQ+ people running for office. The winners from the so-called Rainbow Wave include Jared Polis of Colorado, the first gay man elected governor; Sharice Davids, Kansas’ first Native American and gay congressperson; and Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, two trans women elected to New Hampshire’s House of Representatives. The midterm election was also favorable to bisexuals such as Katie Hill of California, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, and Harrie Farrow, who was elected Justice of the Peace for Carroll County, AR. And Kyrsten Sinema just eked out a win for Arizona’s open Senate seat.

But will these successes increase bisexual visibility? Even in 2018, bisexual invisibility remains a huge problem among the LGBTQ population, despite bi+ people making up the majority of LGBTQ people. The results of bi invisibility are literally deadly; countless studies show that bi+ people have worse mental health than lesbians and gay men, and are at a high risk of suicide. Will the Rainbow Wave help, even if it’s just a little bit?

Farrow hopes so. “We need more out people to save the bi community from our health and mental health disparities,” she says. “But ironically, the best ways to get more out people is to have more out people. There has to be a sense that when you come out, you won’t be on your own being battered around by a lonely wind totally vulnerable to hate and discrimination; there has to be community and role models to embrace you when biphobes abandon and bully….Just as out and proud gay people shattered stereotypes, the same is desperately needed for bisexuals.”

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