Overheard (April 2020)

The Declaration of Independence noted that the power of the government is not from God, but from the people. I think it’s important to understand what the Founding Fathers believed when they had the clause that there must be a separation of church and state. This also protects religion from interference by government in their beliefs.

Indiana state Sen. Mark Stoops, in voting against having an “In God We Trust” sign in every public school classroom. The bill was amended without the requirement. 

TheIndyChannel.com, 1-22-20


The abortion law is much more than the right to perform an abortion. It recognizes women as independent people who have the right to decide over our own bodies. The church is never going to be in favor of this.

Maria del Valle, speaking about Argentina’s bill that would have legalized abortion in that country.  The bill failed.

The New York Times, 2-23-20


As a science advocate, I take strong issue with the nonscience [Ken] Ham peddles to families and students. His parody of the scientific method does real harm, bleeding inexorably into education and public policy. The wholehearted embrace of “alternative facts” and the rejection of plain evidence are making our society more and more polarized. Yet Ham’s treatment of Williamstown [Ky.] is a reminder that these sorts of cult-like organizations have impacts that go much farther than the foolish ideas they promote.

David MacMillan, a self-described “former creationist” and now paralegal and law student in Washington, D.C., in an op-ed about the Ark Encounter in Kentucky.

Cincinnati.com, 2-24-20


If this bill passes, it’s only fair that the abuse of the church-state line go in both directions.

If public schools must carve out mandatory periods to facilitate prayer, then houses of prayer should carve out mandatory periods to facilitate academics.

Frank Cerabino in an op-ed, “Mandatory math in church is my pi-in-the-sky plan” which was in response to a Florida bill that would require public schools to have a mandatory period of silence each day to permit “the study of the bible and religion.”  The bill did not pass.

Palm Beach Post, 2-22-20


This is the real meaning of “religious liberty”: the privilege enjoyed by certain favored groups to hold special status in our society, to claim public money and resources for themselves, and to identify a despised other and organize around their contempt of that enemy. Through the unlikely person of President Trump, the Christian Nationalist movement has seized the levers of power at the heart of government. This is just the beginning.

Katherine Stewart, from an excerpt of her new book The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Stewart will be speaking at FFRF’s convention in November in San Antonio.

The New York Review of Books, 2-28-20


My husband Avijit [Roy] once wrote: “We risk our lives the moment we start wielding our pens against religious bigotry and fundamentalism.” Today, I ask you to take up the cause of those armed only with pens. We all must have the right to examine, question, criticize, oppose, express ourselves, demonstrate, and write free from the culture of fear propagated by blasphemy accusations and other forms of religious persecution.

Rafida Bonya Ahmed, in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives in a joint hearing on “Ending Global Religious Persecution” on Jan. 28.

The Humanist magazine, March/April 2020


No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are — especially not a child. Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk-science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, after signing a bill that bans conversion therapy for minors. Virginia is the 20th state to enforce a ban on the practice, but the first Southern state.

The New York Times, 3-3-20


We respect people of the Christian faith and the importance of the bible to their beliefs. But the place for biblical instruction is in the Sunday school classroom, rather than the public school classroom. It’s in the home and in church. Public school is the place to live out the values of one’s faith, rather than the place to learn it.

Editorial speaking out against the bill to allow teaching the bible in school that is now waiting to be signed by the governor into law.

Charleston Gazette Mail, 3-5-20