Religious Earmarks

An article in the New York Times this week, "Religious Groups Reap Federal Aid for Pet Projects", gives some troubling details about the growing trend of religious groups seeking - and receiving - no-strings-attached federal grants disbursed by a direct act of Congress, usually called "earmarks", to fund their pet projects. Sometimes these grants are for secular purposes, such as ministries that fund job training programs or religious colleges studying how best to reduce gang violence. However, … [Read more...]

Jerry Falwell Dies

Jerry Falwell, prominent Christian conservative and for many years the standard-bearer of America's religious right, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 73 years of age.Falwell was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1933, and graduated from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in 1956. That same year, he was ordained and founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, today a 22,000-member megachurch. In 1968, Falwell began televising the sermons at his church under the title "The … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch X: The National Day of Prayer

I failed to mention previously that last Thursday, May 3, was the "National Day of Prayer" in the United States. Believe it or not, the nation that created the First Amendment has such a day. The bill creating this national observance was signed into law in 1952 by President Harry Truman, and another bill fixing its date as the first Thursday in May was signed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. The purpose of this day, according to the original bill's text, is for Americans to "turn to God in … [Read more...]

Some Words on Exploiting Tragedy

In the wake of the recent horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, where a mentally disturbed student named Cho-Seung Hui murdered 27 students and five faculty members before taking his own life, a shocked nation has struggled to understand. There has been agonized debate over what could have caused this young man to commit such a horrific act of violence - whether it was due to persistent harassment and social ostracism which he suffered, or whether it was mental illness, or some combination of both. … [Read more...]

The Congressional Prayer Caucus

I wrote recently about an attack on nontheist Congressman Pete Stark by a right-wing group calling themselves the Christian Seniors Association. The CSA's spokesman James Lafferty, incensed by the idea that atheists think they have a right to be represented in Congress as if they were human beings like everyone else, complained at length about the campaign of persecution waged against the hundreds of believing members of Congress by the single nonbelieving member:That would be the day that … [Read more...]

A Reply from Pete Stark

A few days ago, I received the following letter from U.S. Representative Pete Stark's office in acknowledgement of the contribution I made to him:These are wonderful sentiments that I can strongly support. I don't think there is any necessity for Rep. Stark to be modest - in the current political climate, it does take courage for an elected official to announce their nontheism, whether we like it or not - but it's absolutely correct to say that the mere announcement does not by … [Read more...]

Pete Stark: The Reaction

It has now been over a week since U.S. Representative Pete Stark announced his nontheism, and so far the reaction from the religious right has been surprisingly tepid. As far as I know, none of their heavyweights have responded - not frothing bigots like William Donohue, not advocates of intolerance like James Dobson, not the cult-controlled Washington Times, not even the many fundamentalist fanatics that still remain in Congress. I confess myself surprised. But although the major propaganda … [Read more...]

New Guest Post on Dangerous Intersection

I have a new post now up on Dangerous Intersection, "Why I don't trust Hillary Clinton".This is an open thread. Comments and discussion are welcome. … [Read more...]

The Congressional Nontheist Is Revealed

Following up on my earlier post, the Secular Coalition for America has made good on its promise and has revealed the name of the first openly nontheistic member of the U.S. Congress: Democratic representative Pete Stark, a seventeen-term House member representing California's 13th district.I didn't expect a nontheist to be a supporter of George W. Bush, and I'm glad to say that isn't the case. On the contrary, Rep. Stark seems to have his priorities in exactly the right place: he is a member … [Read more...]

A Freethinker in Congress!

A brief update to pass along an exciting e-mail alert I received last night from the Secular Coalition for America:On Monday, March 12, the Secular Coalition for America, a national lobbying group representing Americans who do not hold a god-belief, will make history by announcing the name of the first open nontheist member of Congress.Yes, you read it right - there is an atheist in Congress, and one who is willing to step out of the closet and identify themself! I have no idea who it might … [Read more...]


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