For weeks now, I’ve been writing about how Clark County (Washington) officials have gone back and forth over a plan to put up an “In God We Trust” sign in city hall. A few days ago, they decided to vote in favor of the sign, much to the chagrin of church/state separation advocates.
After County Votes to Put Up “In God We Trust” Sign, Atheist Petitions to Put Up “In Dissenters We Believe” Sign
Our latest podcast guest is Daniel Genis, a former atheist prisoner.
Genis (rhymes with “tennis”) grew up in New York City, where he attended Stuyvesant High School and New York University, graduating with a degree in history and French. In 2003, however, he committed five armed robberies, which led to a decade behind bars. During that time, he wrote a novel called Narcotica. Now that he’s out, he’s been writing about the intersection of religion and incarceration for publications like Vice, Deadspin, the Washington Post. New York Daily News, and Newsweek.
We spoke with Daniel about the soul exchange that got him in trouble, why we should feel any sympathy for him, and what he hopes to do now that he’s a free man.
Atheist Billboard with the Words “Easter” and “Church” Rejected in Nashville for Being Too “Aggressive”
American Atheists has its annual convention this Easter weekend in Memphis, Tennessee. As has been the group’s custom in recent years, they decided to purchase a couple of billboards to advertise the gathering. And this is what they wanted to put up:
Cute billboard! (You may remember that little girl from such previous billboards as this one.) As far as “aggressive” goes, this is pretty tame for American Atheists. They’re not attacking Christians, unless you consider disagreement with Christian beliefs an “attack.” Indeed, the billboard was approved in Memphis — you can see it on the road today.
But it was denied in Nashville, a few hours away. The company said AA couldn’t use the words “Easter” or “church” because they were somehow attacking Christianity.
So American Atheists tried again with this passive-aggressive adjustment:
Barbara G. Walker, an author and past recipient of the American Humanist Association’s “Humanist Heroine Award,” has written quite a bit about the intersection of feminism and religion. And her latest collection of essays, Belief & Unbelief (Humanist Press, 2015), holds little back, dismantling many of the defenses we frequently hear about religion.
In the excerpt below (published without footnotes for ease of reading), Walker explains how religious belief doesn’t actually make you good:
A few days ago the American Atheists convention in Puerto Rico was announced with billboards around the island. (The convention will take place on August 21-23 at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino in Old San Juan.)
Just hours after this announcement was made in the local newspapers of the island, one of the organizing groups, Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico (Secular Humanists of Puerto Rico) started receiving death threats over social media.