This Woman is Being Denied U.S. Citizenship Because She’s an Atheist

On Thursday, I received an email from Chris Johnson, familiar to readers of this site because he’s been working on a multimedia book about atheists and what gives them joy and meaning in life.

It turned out his 64-year-old stepmother was applying to become an official U.S. citizen after living here for more than 30 years.

Part of the application asked her if she would “take up arms in defense of the United States” — join the military, in essence — and she responded, in part, like this:

… The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms. I deeply and sincerely believe that it is not moral or ethical to take another person’s life, and my lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me a duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up armsmy beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God

That bit at the end is what caught the eye of someone at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They told her that if she had a “conscientious objection,” it had to be on religious grounds, not moral ones.

Her atheism wasn’t good enough.

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Good Reasons to Be Scared of Atheists

David Hayward is on a roll with his list of reasons to be scared of atheists:

4. There are some atheists out there who would challenge your beliefs and question your assumptions, even respectfully, which can make for a very difficult conversation.

6. There are some atheists who are actually good people and because of this will really complicate your tidy categories of who’s in and who’s out.

8. There are some atheists who, because of their quality of intelligence and character, will upset your faith and make you wonder why your God should punish such a person.

Turns out we’re scary because we’re not scary at all. [Read more...]

Speaking in the Carolinas This Weekend

Just a quick reminder that I’ll be speaking in North and South Carolina this weekend! All the events are free (donations accepted!), kids are welcome to attend, and I might dance at one of the talks. Maybe.

Details are below:

Group: Charlotte Atheists
City: Charlotte, NC
Location: University of North Carolina at Charlotte main campus, Cone Center, 3rd floor, Lucas Room
Date: Saturday, June 15
Time: 3:00p

Group: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
City: Charleston, SC
Location: Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street
Date: Sunday, June 16
Time: 4:00p

Group: Triangle Freethought Society
City: Raleigh, NC
Location: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, Founders Hall, 3313 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27607
Date: Monday, June 17
Time: 6:30p [Read more...]

No, Salon, Atheists Are Not ‘Just as Obnoxious as Christians’

Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing for Salon, thinks that atheists are “just as obnoxious as Christians.” She lowers us to their level because atheists recently fought to be treated like Christians in a Florida school district.

Atheists aren’t being “obnoxious” when we force government officials to treat us like they do Christians — we’re being strategic under the rules of the law. And it works.

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House Votes Down Amendment Allowing Non-religious Military Chaplains, but 150 Democrats Voted for It

Earlier this week, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) put forth an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow for non-religious military chaplains:

The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the appointment, as officers in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces, of persons who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations and institutions, such as humanist, ethical culturalist, or atheist.

Republicans (and some Democrats) in the House Armed Services Committee voted against the amendment 43-18 so it didn’t leave the committee.

That didn’t mean the end of the legislation, though. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) tried to get the amendment through without the support of the Committee:

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