Bring the Light — My Latest for Splice Today

When I came out to my mother as an atheist, her first response was, “Does this mean I can save money by not buying you Christmas presents?” She was being tongue-in-cheek, but there are those who honestly believe atheists have no business observing Christmas or any holiday in December. We’re used to hearing conservative Christians say Christmas belongs to them only, but surprisingly even some staunch atheists, like Tom Flynn of the Council for Secular Humanism, say Christmas is explicitly a religious holiday. I love the holidays because they remind us that while things look dark right now, a brighter future is ahead.

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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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Bi Any Means Podcast #170: Atheism and Social Justice with PZ Myers

My guest for today is PZ Myers. He’s a biologist and blogger who writes about atheism, science, and social justice on Freethought Blogs. Today I have him on the show to get to know him more, plus have a conversation about the current state of movement atheism.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #170: Atheism and Social Justice with PZ Myers” on Spreaker.

Bi Any Means Podcast #169: Godless Mom with Courtney Heard

My guest for today is Courtney Heard. She’s been blogging about atheism and secular humanism at Godless Mom since 2014, and she co-hosts the Common Heathens podcast with Donovan Badrock. Today we get to know more about Courtney and all that she does.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #169: Godless Mom with Courtney Heard” on Spreaker.

Bi Any Means Podcast #167: Islam, Secularism, and Intersectionality with Sam Farooqui

My guest for today is Sam Farooqui. She’s an ex-Muslim and an organizer who was a campus organizer for Secular Student Alliance in college, and has interned with both CFI and the American Humanist Association. Today I have her on the show to talk about her life, her work, and her thoughts on secular activism and intersectionality.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #167: Islam, Secularism, and Intersectionality with Sam Farooqui” on Spreaker.

Bi Any Means Podcast #160: Humanist Legal Society with David Niose

My guest for today is David Niose. According to his bio, he is the legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center (which is the legal arm of the American Humanist Association), running the AHLC’s Massachusetts office. His background includes experience in law and mass communication. Having practiced law in Massachusetts since 1990, Niose has also worked in print and broadcast media, taught both history and law, and written extensively on a wide array of issues. He is also the immediate past president of the American Humanist Association, and recently helped launched the Humanist Legal Society which seeks to promote humanist values in the law and throughout society. So today I have him on the show to talk about that.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #160: Humanist Legal Society with David Niose” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #159: Escaping Islam with Zerin Firoze

My guest for today is Zerin Firoze. She’s an atheist from Bangladesh who faced death threats and got thrown out of her house simply for being an atheist. Thankfully she was able to move to the United States as a student, and she’s here with us today on the show to tell her story.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #150: Black Women vs. Christianity with Deanna Adams

My guest for today is Deanna Adams. She is a co-organizer for Black Lives Matter Houston, and has an essay called “Black Women and Christianity: A Historical Perspective Part 2” in Karen Garst’s upcoming book “Women v. Religion.” Today I have Deanna on the show to talk about her life, her work, and about racial justice and humanism in general.

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Even Humanists Can Be Racist — My Latest for Splice Today

Last week, a white Yale student named Sarah Braasch called the police on black student Lolade Siyonbola for falling asleep in the student dorm common room. Siyonbola broadcasted the entire incident live on Facebook, and the story quickly went viral. Reporters immediately started looking into Braasch’s background, and found something disturbing: although she’s a humanist, she has a history of racial insensitivity.

In 2010, Braasch wrote an article for The Humanist about how she was assigned to defend slavery for a middle school debate, and won after bringing up the fact that some slaves didn’t know what to do after being freed. “[I]n the land of the free,” she argued, “who are we to tell people that they can’t be slaves if they want to be? Who are we to tell someone that she has to be free? Who are we to tell someone that she has to be regarded as fully human? It doesn’t matter that the alternative to slavery, which would mean walking away from everything one had ever known to recreate life anew without any resources, was regarded as healthier and more dignified. It was still the individual’s choice to make.”

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