Scorecard for the 110th Congress

The Secular Coalition for America has released the scorecard for the 110th Congress. It will be updated through 2008, but even the unfinished scorecard tells us a lot.

It denotes how House and Senate members are voting on various bills dealing with religious freedom and secular government (such as expansion of stem cell research, tax benefits for enrolling in religious schools, responsible sex education instead of abstinence-only sex-ed, etc.)

To see how your state’s Representatives are doing, click here.

To see how your state’s Senators are doing, click here.

Once all the votes are in for this congress, the SCA will assign percentage ranks and give us all the nifty statistics and graphics like they did for the 109th Congress.

Man, I love my Illinois Senators. But Durbin, where were you during the vote for real sex education?!


[tags]atheist, atheism, Secular Coalition for America, House of Representatives, Senate, stem cell research, sex education, abstinence-only, Dick Durbin[/tags]

  • Eliza

    OK, so I’m from a liberal district. Both senators from my state, and my representative, each rated +3.

    While I’m happy about that, it leaves me feeling like writing my senators and congressman aren’t likely to result in any improvement.

    I guess there are worse positions to be in!

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com globalizati

    Hemant,
    On a completely random note.. did you know Shelley the Republican has issued a fatwa on you, by name? Congratulations–you’re officially my hero.

  • Donna

    I know this may not be the best place to post this, but I was having a hard time getting into the other forums (I think my computer has something messed up in it). Someone sent me this article on Sam Harris. It talks about that even though he criticizes other’s non-scientific beliefs, he seems to have quite a few of his own. He also says some rather confusing and possibly disturbing quotes about torture and killing people. So, what does this make him? Is he really anti-religion, or just anti-Christian, Jewish, and Muslim? Is he just against anyone who doesn’t believe what he does? I’m an agnostic but I was never that crazy about Harris to begin with, so I wasn’t surprised to read this. I would like to know what others think. thanks.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/46196?page=1

  • Miko

    I know this may not be the best place to post this, but I was having a hard time getting into the other forums (I think my computer has something messed up in it). Someone sent me this article on Sam Harris. It talks about that even though he criticizes other’s non-scientific beliefs, he seems to have quite a few of his own. He also says some rather confusing and possibly disturbing quotes about torture and killing people. So, what does this make him? Is he really anti-religion, or just anti-Christian, Jewish, and Muslim? Is he just against anyone who doesn’t believe what he does? I’m an agnostic but I was never that crazy about Harris to begin with, so I wasn’t surprised to read this. I would like to know what others think. thanks.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/46196?page=1

    The article ends:

    So there it is. In Harris’s vision of future America, we will pursue “personal transformation” and gaze into our personal “I-we” riddles, while the distant gurgles of Arabs, terrified by the threat of drowning, will drift into our Eastern-influenced sacred space, the government’s press releases no more than soothing Zen koans.

    Sounds like a biased polemic to me. It twists things Harris has said, asserts that he supports every position another author makes because he quotes him once, and accuses him of cherry-picking for acknowledging that not every single thing in every single religious book ever written is entirely bad. That paragraph quoted above is so far from anything Harris has actually ever suggested that I have to conclude that the piece is intentionally and maliciously distorting his views.

    I disagree with Harris on the use of torture, but his argument for its use is really much weaker than his detractors like to claim. It’s also mainly intended to raise awareness of the fact that we’re too willing to accept collatoral damage in war by drawing a parallel to torture.

    Regarding non-scientific beliefs, I would argue that he doesn’t hold any. He has merely stated that, while he has not himself studied them in depth, the evidence for things like reincarnation and certain types of ESP are better than certain religious claims and potentially worth studying. From what I’ve seen, I’ll agree that while the evidence is pretty bad, it definitely is better. Carl Sagan said the same thing (in Demon Haunted World). Many other scientists (and atheists) have. The unscientific thing would be to categorically reject these claims without studying them: the whole idea of science is that we don’t know the answers until we perform experiments.

    For more detail, I suggest reading Harris’ response to these claims: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy3/

  • Donna

    Interesting, considering the article was written by an atheist working for a secular magazine, so I really don’t see what the motive would be for misquoting him? Also, how could reincarnation be scientfic? If someone is reborn, where do they go in between if there is no afterlife? How come he is “open” to that but not other religious claims (reincarnation is a religoius claim-hinduism)? There is no scientific proof for any of this. Basically, a possible spiritual belief in telepahy or esp is okay b/c that’s what he agrees with-the religions that are not okay are the ones he doesn’t like. At least Dawkins slams them all equally. And then there’s the quote “some propositions are so dangerous it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them”-what does that say? does that mean if he had his way he would kill people who stubbornly held to religious beliefs he thought were dangerous? This author isn’t the only one to write this. I’ve seen other athiests blogging about it and wondering about him as well. Here is the link where the original author defends the column (read it all it’s at the bottom): http://www.alternet.org/stories/46494/?page=1

    If nothing else it’s something to think about. Dawkins I do respect, although I have to wonder about this quote: http://jewishatheist.blogspot.com/2006/10/richard-dawkins-has-lost-my-respect.html

    But to me Harris comes off as pretty fake, even in his response to the controversy. Don’t claim to be the “voice of atheism” if you do have some spritual beliefs. Doesn’t he accuse religious moderates of sitting on the fence?

  • Miko

    How come he is “open” to that but not other religious claims (reincarnation is a religoius claim-hinduism)? There is no scientific proof for any of this. Basically, a possible spiritual belief in telepahy or esp is okay b/c that’s what he agrees with-the religions that are not okay are the ones he doesn’t like.

    The difference is that reincarnation is not a religious claim so much as a claim that happens to be made by a religion. It is a scientific claim and while it is not proven, their is documented evidence in its favor. Naturally, such evidence is not necessarily valid (for example, a child who grows up being constantly told she’s the reincarnation of her grandmother and develops ‘memories’ of her grandmother’s life is worthless as evidence), but there are nonetheless facts suggestive of reincarnation, as opposed to most religious claims for which there are no suggestive facts and quite a bit of contrary evidence.

    And then there’s the quote “some propositions are so dangerous it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them”-what does that say? does that mean if he had his way he would kill people who stubbornly held to religious beliefs he thought were dangerous?

    It comes off a bit harsh, but yes: that’s exactly what he means. What’s more, you agree with him. It’s not about people stubbornly holding to certain beliefs. It’s about dangerous beliefs, where you have the choice of killing the terrorist before he detonates a bomb or deciding to let him proceed.

    Here is the link where the original author defends the column (read it all it’s at the bottom): http://www.alternet.org/stories/46494/?page=1

    Reads like more of the same. The response twists things all over and makes some wild, unsupported quotations. For example, Harris suggests that the Buddha made statements superior to those of some Western philosophers. Gorenfeld then inserts that Harris probably means Newton and Jefferson, who so happen to be a scientist and a politician—no doubt, exactly what Harris meant by the word ‘philosopher.’ Gorenfeld also asserts that Harris accepts reincarnation on the basis of ‘eerie birthmarks,’ while Harris only accepts the possibility of reincarnation based on things like xenoglossy, which are falsifiable scientific claims if proper controls can be developed.

    If nothing else it’s something to think about. Dawkins I do respect, although I have to wonder about this quote: http://jewishatheist.blogspot.com/2006/10/richard-dawkins-has-lost-my-res

    I’ve heard a few victims of abuse by priests come forward to agree with this quotation and none come forward to disagree. That doesn’t prove anything, but it’s suggestive.

    But to me Harris comes off as pretty fake, even in his response to the controversy. Don’t claim to be the “voice of atheism” if you do have some spritual beliefs.

    I doubt he does have what you would refer to as spiritual beliefs. Besides, he’s not arguing for atheism: he’s arguing against faith. If you insist that atheism be faith-based, I’m not surprised that you disagree with Harris.

    Interesting, considering the article was written by an atheist working for a secular magazine, so I really don’t see what the motive would be for misquoting him?

    Gorenfeld answers that himself:

    There is a bogus atheist on the loose, and as a Californian I feel responsible. It’s a real problem out West, where moony-eyed mystics deliver windy lectures on “scientific” soul magic.

    He’s so afraid of cranks that he attacks them before determining whether they exist. I’ve never used the phrase ‘fundamentalist atheist’ before, but I’m tempted to do so in describing Gorenfeld’s attitude. He’s turned atheism into a dogmatic belief system which rejects scientific investigation of phenomena that is instead simply decreed to be wrong by his authority.

  • HappyNat

    But to me Harris comes off as pretty fake, even in his response to the controversy. Don’t claim to be the “voice of atheism” if you do have some spritual beliefs. Doesn’t he accuse religious moderates of sitting on the fence?

    Did I miss where Harris claimed to be the voice of atheism? If other people have put that tag on him, it is not his fault.

    If a person holds a spritual belief they can’t be an atheist? Can they believe in ghosts, leprechauns, UFOs, yoga, esp, meditation, and still be an atheist?


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