New York Times: Where Were Atheists After the Sandy Hook Massacre?

Samuel Freedman has an article in today’s New York Times with the headline, “In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent.” The gist, as you might guess, is that in the wake of a disaster like the Sandy Hook massacre, there were religious groups waiting to serve the victims’ families and the community… but there was no obvious Humanist presence:

This illustration of religious belief in action, of faith expressed in extremis, an example at once so heart-rending and so affirming, has left behind one prickly question: Where were the humanists? At a time when the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation is growing rapidly, why did the “nones,” as they are colloquially known, seem so absent?

To raise these queries is not to play gotcha, or to be judgmental in a dire time. In fact, some leaders within the humanist movement — an umbrella term for those who call themselves atheists, agnostics, secularists and freethinkers, among other terms — are ruefully and self-critically saying the same thing themselves.

“It is a failure of community, and that’s where the answer for the future has to lie,” said Greg M. Epstein, 35, the humanist chaplain at Harvard and author of the book “Good Without God.” “What religion has to offer to people at moments like this — more than theology, more than divine presence — is community. And we need to provide an alternative form of community if we’re going to matter for the increasing number of people who say they are not believers.

[Read more...]

A Second Atheist Billboard Vandalized Near Roanoke, Virginia

Four billboards went up in the Roanoke, Virginia last week, sponsored by the Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason

[Read more...]

‘Keep Saturn in Saturnalia’ Banner Rejected; ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ Banner Allowed

The Knights of Columbus currently have a sign reading “Keep Christ in Christmas” on government property (without a permit) in Pitman, New Jersey.

Ok. We’ve played this game before. All you have to do is make a request for your atheist holiday banner to be displayed on the same property and you can’t be denied.

So that’s what the Freedom From Religion Foundation did. They applied for a permit to display their sign, which read, “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia”:

[Read more...]

FFRF is Suing the IRS, Claiming That It Gives Preferential Treatment to Religious Groups

Today, the Freedom From Religion Foundation along with their Triangle Freethought Society chapter in North Carolina announced that they, too, are suing the IRS in a federal lawsuit because of the government agency’s “preferential treatment of churches in applying for and maintaining tax-exempt status.”

“Why should churches be exempt from basic financial reporting requirements? Equally important, why would churches not wish be accountable?” asks Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “Having tax-exempt status is a great privilege, and in exchange for that privilege, all other groups must file a detailed report annually to the IRS and the public on how we spend donations.”

“The unfairness of this is so overwhelming,” says FFRF President Emerita Anne Nicol Gaylor. “There are different rules favoring churches.”

[Read more...]

Inoffensive Atheist Sign Gets Vandalized in Virginia; It Was Spraypainted and Burned

For seven years now, the Shenandoah Area Secular Humanists in Virginia have put up a display alongside a Nativity scene on the Warren County courthouse lawn.

Their sign reads:

With reason and compassion as our guide, let us work together to produce a world in which peace, prosperity, freedom, and happiness are shared by all.

That’s not only completely inoffensive; it’s something a religious group could have put up and no one would have batted an eye. There’s also a quotation from John F. Kennedy regarding church/state separation and a declaration of the principles of Secular Humanism underneath it.

So guess what happened to it? [Read more...]


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