Dozens of public figures

From a comment

What horrible bullying garbage that is. It’s not a “Christian country”; that’s not a meaningful description, and if it were, the UK still wouldn’t fit it.

Yes, it is.

(Scroll down for Anglican.)

Heads of state government shouldn’t make untrue and coercive statements like that; it others most of the population.

What on earth are you talking about? (Also applies to the “bullying” stuff above?)

I’m not the only one. The Telegraph reports that “Dozens of public figures accuse David Cameron of fostering alienation and division with call to view Britain as a Christian country.”

David Cameron is sowing sectarianism and division by insisting that Britain is still a “Christian country” an alliance of writers, scientists, philophers and politicians has claimed. [Read more…]

Hello Secular Woman

Press release:

First National Organization for Atheist Women Mobilizes

Leadership Development Drives Mission

Atlanta, Georgia – June 28, 2012. Secular Woman, Inc. makes its debut today as the first national membership organization dedicated exclusively to advancing the interests of atheist, humanist and other non-religious women. The organization’s stated vision is “a future in which women without supernatural beliefs have the opportunities and resources they need to participate openly and confidently as respected voices of leadership in the secular community and every aspect of American society.”

Secular identity organizations often struggle to attract and retain female members, lending weight to surveys which typically characterize women as more spiritual than men. Secular Woman will offer its members conference travel grants, profiles of secular women, achievement awards and other programming designed to add gender diversity to secular events and bring more nonbelieving women out of the closet and into roles of leadership.

Through strategic partnerships, Secular Woman will also advocate for equal pay, reproductive choice, and marriage equality, addressing political trends the group sees as ideologically-motivated threats to its members’ freedom of conscience. “The ‘War on Women’ dovetailing with the rise of secular activism showed us the time had come for secular women to form our own distinct organization to support our vision of the future,” said Kim Rippere, a Secular Woman founder and the organization’s first president. “Secular women have always been at front and center of the feminist quest for equality and autonomy.”

Rippere is joined on the group’s first Board of Directors by co-founders Brandi Braschler, Vice President of Programs; Bridget Gaudette, Vice President of Outreach; and Mary Ellen Sikes, Vice President of Operations. The four women bring a combined total of more than forty years’ activism in secular and women’s issues to Secular Woman.

“With this organization we plan to focus on promoting the secular female voice, but anyone who supports our mission can join,” said Gaudette. “All are vital to the success of Secular Woman and to the overall secular movement.”


Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit:

It’s still a Christian country

Cork city councillors don’t want no stinkin’ secularism. Cork city councillors say Ireland is a Christian country so there.

A proposal to scrap a prayer at the start of a local authority meeting sparked an unholy row last night.

Cork’s city councillors voted overwhelmingly against the move after a heated debate.

Socialist Party councillor Mick Barry, an atheist, called for the deletion of a rule governing the order of council business which states that the start of the council’s public meetings should include the recitation of an opening prayer, followed by a brief period of silent reflection.

The prayer reads: “Direct, we beseech thee, O Lord, our actions by thy holy inspirations and carry them on by thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from thee, and by thee be happily ended; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

That’s a very terrible prayer. Look at it. It means that they think whatever they do has been directed by what they take to be a good and all-powerful god. It makes them think they’re infallible.

Or maybe it doesn’t, because it’s just some words, and they don’t really listen or take it in or draw the obvious conclusions. Maybe. But why trust people to ignore their own Holy Formulas? And even if they don’t decide they’re infallible because they’ve said the prayer, they probably do assume they’re better for it, and a little protected from doing Definitely Bad Things.

Cllr Joe O’Callaghan (FG) said: “If it was good enough for Connolly, then it’s good enough for me. With all its faults, I’m a Catholic and I’m proud of that. And it’s still a Christian country and long may that continue.”

See? Like that. With all its faults, he’s proud of being a Catholic. What a thing to be proud of! “With all its faults” indeed – “all its faults” are a damn good reason to leave it.

Obama to the rest of us: who cares?

Secularism? Separation of church and state? Government should neither help nor hinder any particular religion? Pluralism? Some of us are not Christians? The president is supposed to be the president of all the people? Hello?

Oh fuck off, comes the reply. Obama hosted his third annual Easter prayer breakfast at the White House on Wednesday, and there’s not a god damn thing you can do about it.

Though the president is Christian, surveys have repeatedly shown that as many as one in five Americans believe he is Muslim. His Easter prayer breakfasts have served as a platform for the president to wax theological in familiar surroundings where he appears most comfortable.

Among the guests were Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl; civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, a spiritual adviser to Obama; Archbishop Demitrios of the Greek Orthodox Church; the Rev. Julius Scruggs, president of the National Baptist Convention and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Christian singer Sara Groves sang “He’s Always Been Faithful To Me” and Rev. Cynthia Hale of Ray of Hope Christian Church offered the opening prayer.

That’s nice. People who believe weird things are welcome while people who decline to believe weird things (along with people who believe different weird things) are not. The theocratization of the US marches on, with Obama helping. Nice.


We mandate no belief

Behold – what Ronald Reagan was able to say in 1984.

We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson [of the Holocaust], for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.

He also says we’re all of God and the like, slightly undercutting himself, but all the same – good luck finding a Republican talking like that now.

H/t Roger.


Beware the frumious bandersnatch

Polly Toynbee thinks secularism is not such a terrible idea. She’s not completely persuaded by claims that secularism is ruining all the things.

…the faiths are glad to circle their wagons round [the queen] against the unbelievers. Each has their own divinely revealed unique truth, often provoking mortal conflict, Muslim v Copt, Catholic v Protestant, Hindu v Muslim or Sunni v Shia. But suddenly the believers are united in defence against the secular, willing to suspend the supremacy of their own prophets to agree that any religion, however alien, from elephant god to son of God, is better than none. [Read more…]

Last night in Cranston

My brother was at the Cranston school board meeting last night. He told me he thought the day was really won by a great Irish guy named Dan McCarthy

who  got up early in the comment session and said “I went to Catholic schools, where  I said the rosary every day.  I also said it at home, with my father. In fact, I said it today with a dying friend. So I’m a practicing  Catholic.

“On the other hand, my great grandfather came here because he was not allowed to own the land he farmed, in Ireland.  Because he was a Catholic.  In a prod country.

“Don’t appeal.”

He sat down, and the atmosphere in the room changed. The  appeal nuts were no longer whooping and hollering and, when they did resume, a  lot of the spirit had gone out of them.

He had also contacted the Rhode Island chapter of Progessive Democrats of America in support of their statement (I suspect my brother wrote it, though I haven’t confirmed that):

Rhode IslanChapter of
Progressive Democrats oAmerica

The Rhode Island Chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America passed a resolution at its regularly scheduled meeting at the Rochambeau Library on 6 February 2012 against the display of a prayer on the wall of the auditorium of Cranston West High School.

RIPDA took this action in defense of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads in its entirety: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It is worth noting that Congress chose in 1791 to open the enumeration of fundamental rights to be enjoyed by all [free] citizens of the new nation with the right to be free of any state-sponsored religion. Most of them were pious church-goers; their brief was in no sense against the exercise of religion. They prohibited rather any intervention whatso­ever, for or against, by their new state in the religious realm. They could not have made their prohibition more absolute; RIPDA is arguing for respecting their manifest intent.

These men had just come through the violence of their own war for independence, but they knew the power of religious conviction to spawn conflicts of an intensity we have yet to outgrow. Europe had been convulsed by religious conflict for centuries: the inten­sity of the conflict can be gauged by their renewal in Sarajevo and Bosnia twenty years ago, but the new Americans remembered equally bloody wars within their parents’ life­times. They were determined not to allow them to begin again. So are we.

My brother is a Montaigne scholar. Montaigne knew a very great deal about Europe’s convulsions under religious conflict.

Next up for Cranston

Steve Ahlquist – Jessica’s uncle – has a plan for what to do next, to benefit Cranston public schools, which he posted at the Facebook group Support the Removal of the Cranston High School West Prayer.

Awhile back, the Cranston school committee cut funding for music at their schools, because of budgetary concerns. In response, a group of concerned parents formed a group called BASICS, which I’ll find a link to soon, with the aim of restoring the programs. Raising money for the City of Cranston or the school committee would not allow them to “learn their lesson” but funding BASICS will put money directly into cut programs. The school committee will still have to pay, but the kids could still have their programs, no thanks to the recalcitrant members of the Cranston political elite.

He mentioned that he wants to get the big atheist bloggers like Hemant, PZ, and Rebecca to support it – so I figure he wants to get average-size atheist bloggers to support it too.

Pass it on.

“Secularism” in Turkey

Burak Bekdil explains why Turkish secularism isn’t.

A majority of Turks, Sunni Muslims, overtly or covertly believe that they should be “more equal” than the others because they constitute the majority. They think that it is their natural right to enjoy preferential treatment in terms of governance and law enforcement. Remember how the crowds in Istanbul last year, trying to attack the Israeli consulate, shouted at the police who were trying to prevent bloodshed? “Leave the Jews to us! What kind of Muslims are you?” A simple search will produce thousands of examples of this nature unveiling the conscious or subconscious desire of the Sunni Turk for preferential treatment in public administration. [Read more…]

Far from being in thrall?

Is secularism really winning in the US?

The US is increasingly portrayed as a hotbed of religious fervour. Yet in the homeland of ostentatiously religious politicians such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, agnostics and atheists are actually part of one of the fastest-growing demographics in the US: the godless. Far from being in thrall to its religious leaders, the US is in fact becoming a more secular country, some experts say. “It has never been better to be a free-thinker or an agnostic in America,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF. [Read more…]