Weekend Coffee: October 7

Coffee

Some links gathered over the week for you to peruse: • Ed Miliband, the leader of the UK's opposition Labour party, is a nonbeliever. He says he doesn't hold religious faith, but rather a faith in human progress. This column by Fraser Nelson admits that this may be a smart move in increasingly secular Britain, which is no longer a Christian country "but... still a country of compassion and principles". • A UK judge rules that parents have "no sacred right" over the education of their … [Read more...]

The Godless Constitution and the Ratification Battle

Over the weekend, JT linked to this post on Patheos by Ben Witherington, an evangelical Bible scholar, opining about the legal basis for separation of church and state in America.But what about those founding documents— the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Didn't they set up a secular society for America? Didn't they set up 'a separation of church and state'? Look hard— can you find any clause that uses that phrase in our founding documents? Basically this … [Read more...]

The Fallout in Cranston

Back in January, I wrote about Jessica Ahlquist's court victory over an illegal "School Prayer" banner in her high school in Cranston, Rhode Island. That was almost the end of the story, but since then, there have been a few further developments. In February, following a tumultuous hearing, the school board grudgingly did the right thing and decided not to appeal. Taking the case further into farce, a few Cranston die-hards tried to intervene after the decision had been handed down and filed a … [Read more...]

Some More Implications of Religious Liberty

The Christian right, both Catholics and evangelicals, wants to outlaw birth control. This isn't a new revelation, but in the last few weeks, they've been saying it so often and so loudly that the public is starting to take notice. Of course, they don't have anywhere near the political muscle to actually achieve this - but what they hope to do is make access to contraception as difficult and expensive as possible, effectively putting it out of the reach of millions of people. As part of their … [Read more...]

Victory for Jessica Ahlquist and the Constitution

I've previously written about the case of Jessica Ahlquist, an incredibly brave young atheist from Rhode Island who's the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging an unconstitutional "School Prayer" banner in her high school's auditorium. Today, I'm happy to announce that the judge has ruled, and it was a resounding victory for the good guys: The high school student who sought the removal of a prayer mural from the auditorium at Cranston High School West has won her suit in federal court. U.S. … [Read more...]

‘Tis the Season for Holy War Nostalgia

Most atheist writers in America have encountered the phenomenon of "fatwa envy", where Christian apologists sneer that we wouldn't dare criticize Islam in the same way we criticize Christianity. (This is false, for the record.) Evidently, they're jealous of Islamic extremists' willingness to commit violence in an attempt to silence their critics. Sometimes, it almost comes across as wishing they had more people on their side who were willing to be violent, so they could make us sorry. This isn't … [Read more...]

Are Arab Countries Ready for Democracy?

In a previous post, I wrote about the Arab Spring's effect on women and and whether it may actually be a setback for human rights. It so happens that in the letters section of the latest Columbia magazine, there was an exchange over this issue: In Egypt, which Khalidi holds up as a prime example of a secular, democratic movement in action, 74 percent of citizens in 2007 favored the strict application of Shariah, 91 percent favored keeping Western values out of Islamic nations, and 67 percent … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 12

Here's some miscellany to accompany your morning coffee: • 70 major U.S. corporations and civic organizations call for DOMA to be struck down in a friend-of-the-court brief supporting a federal legal challenge. • Help defend the First Amendment! The U.S. Forest Service is considering a request from FFRF to terminate a Catholic group's no-cost lease for a shrine to Jesus on federal parkland. The public comment period is open until December 8, and we need to make our voices heard. The … [Read more...]

Is the Arab Spring Hurting Arab Women?

While protests continue to rage in Syria and a new government takes shape in Libya, the origin of the Arab Spring has attained a huge milestone: Tunisia successfully held its first election last week, and aside from scattered protests and violence, the contest appears to have been largely peaceful, free and fair - not to mention high-turnout (over 70% of eligible voters cast ballots). Three cheers for Tunisia! But Western secularists may have reason not to be entirely sanguine about the … [Read more...]

Secular Help for Trafficking Survivors

I've written in the past about the phenomenon of people who think that their religious beliefs excuse them from doing their job. The correct solution, of course, is to not accept a job whose duties you won't perform; but the religious privilege that pervades society often leads people to expect that their employer should accommodate them, rather than vice versa, and that they should be paid for work they refuse to do. Usually, this happens in service positions: pharmacists who won't fill … [Read more...]


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