Overheard (Jan/Feb 2020)

New Zealanders are often wary of religion. The 2018 census revealed that those who said they had no religion — 49 percent of the population — had overtaken Christians, at 38 percent, for the first time.

Reporter Charlotte Graham-McLay, in her article “New Zealand is tackling hot-button liberal issues in one swoop.”

The New York Times, 11-26-19


Mr. Barr has embraced wholesale the “religious liberty” rhetoric of today’s Christian nationalist movement. When religious nationalists invoke “religious freedom,” it is typically code for religious privilege. The freedom they have in mind is the freedom of people of certain conservative and authoritarian varieties of religion to discriminate against those of whom they disapprove or over whom they wish to exert power. . . . The purpose of this “religious liberty” rhetoric is not just to secure a place of privilege, but also to justify public funding for the right kind of religion.

Katherine Stewart and Caroline Fredrickson, in their op-ed “Bill Barr thinks America is going to hell.”

The New York Times, 12-29-19


As an atheist who dealt repeatedly with creationists as they attempted to force their myth into the science curriculum, I can attest that I have never viewed Genesis as “a pack of lies.” Rather, I view it as ancient fiction.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a lie as “a false statement made with intent to deceive.” Those who constructed the Genesis account of creation could not have known that their story was false by the scientific standards we now hold. Modern religious zealots who still promulgate scriptural creation myths as true when they know better are, however, a different matter. They, indeed, are guilty of lying.

Joseph D. McInerney, former president of the National Association of Biology Teachers, writing to The New York Times to respond to Karen Armstrong’s contention that atheists view the bible as “a pack of lies.”

The New York Times, 12-13-19


If the “war on Christmas” didn’t exist, conservatives would have had to invent it. Which pretty much explains why they did.

Editorial, “The phony ‘war on Christmas’ returns.”

York Dispatch, 12-9-19