Overheard (March 2020)

How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? Where’s the joy in getting into the gated community and the private academy if it turns out that the gates are merely decorative and the academy has an inexhaustible scholarship program for the underprivileged? What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure? What heaven can there be for us without an eternity in which to relish the impotent envy of those outside its walls?

Philosopher, scholar of religion and cultural critic David Bentley Hart, in his op-ed, “Why do people believe in hell?”

The New York Times, 1-10-20


There are many personal decisions that are not the role of government to make, from deciding how & when to grow a family, to deciding how & when to pray. Politicians should not use state resources to encourage prayer, nor use state resources to control our reproductive choices.

Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, after Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation Jan. 7 urging Nebraskans to pray for an end to abortion on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states.

Twitter, 1-9-20


To Mike Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife work at a school that bans LGBTQ, you are wrong. You say we should not discriminate against Christianity; you are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian. I am a Christian woman and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome. So you can take all that disgrace Mr. Pence and you can look yourself in the mirror and you’ll find it right there.

Singer Lady Gaga, who paused in concert during her song “Million Reasons” to lambast Vice President Pence.

Yahoo.com, 1-20-20


The abuse that I endured at the hands of nuns made me the type of person where I don’t believe in anybody’s dogma. I don’t buy it. It’s just a form of control. I do believe in energy. That’s my religion. The energy of love is necessary for me. That’s what I pray for. People are like, “How come you pray when you say you don’t believe in the Catholic Church?” I say, “Because I made my own church.”

Actress Rosie Perez, in an interview.

New York Times Magazine, 1-13-20


I think [religion is] very black and white, binary, but I don’t think it’s very welcoming. Religion can be a crutch. Because it’s binary, it’s us and them, saved and unsaved, heaven and hell, it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous and sinner and filthy. I think that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves, like ‘I got Jesus and I’m saved and I’m going to heaven.’ I don’t know how you can believe in a God that wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell. What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn most of his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?

Aaron Rodgers, NFL quarterback, in an interview with Danica Patrick.

YouTube, 12-27-19


It gave us the extra couple of seconds we needed [when the ad ran short]. For most religionists, that cuts to the core. If you tell them you’re not afraid of burning in their hell, they’ve got nothing on you.

Ron Reagan, explaining why, in the TV ad he did for FFRF, he said, “Lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”

The Daily Beast, 1-17-20


The battle to reclaim the true meaning of religious freedom has inextricably become increasingly central to the 2020 election, and to the political concerns of virtually all Americans, whether they realize it or not.

Journalist Paul Rosenberg, in his article, “With the Christian Right on the offensive, activists are fighting back.”

Salon.com, 1-20-20


We have 20 years of public health studies all around the world that show not only that abstinence policies are ineffective but that they have nefarious consequences when it comes to teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. We’re making public policy based on religious beliefs.

Debora Diniz, Brazilian law professor and reproductive rights activist, commenting on a new abstinence campaign formulated by Brazil’s minister for women and families — an evangelical pastor. Brazil has a high teen pregnancy rate and rising HIV infection rate.

The New York Times, 1-27-20


For my taste, it’s a little too rote an action. It smacks too much of mindless obedience in a time when independent thinking and independent municipal action is at a premium because there is so little happening on the federal level. Over the course of the last two years, as I’ve been taking a knee, I turn around and look at everybody. People’s hearts don’t really seem to be in it. They’re just doing something out of custom. What’s the point?

Ford Greene, mayor of San Anselmo, Calif., on unilaterally removing the Pledge of Allegiance at town council meetings.

Marin Independent Journal, 1-25-20


I hate religion. The Quran is a religion of hate. . . . I am not racist. You cannot be racist towards a religion. I said what I thought, you’re not going to make me regret it.

16-year-old Mila Orriols, during a live segment on her Instagram account. Her comments sparked a national debate about blasphemy and freedom of speech in France after she received death threats. She has gone into hiding.

BBC, 2-4-20


Aaron Rodgers

Although I have long ago left the Catholic Church, they continue to berate and diminish the reality of what my sister and my family have endured because of their criminal behavior and lack of remorse or contrition.

Rhode Island state Rep. Carol McEntee, after a local priest, Richard Bucci, said any legislators who voted in favor of a bill that protected a woman’s right to choose would be barred from receiving communion. McEntee’s sister was repeatedly abused by a former parish priest starting when she was 5.

Washington Post, 2-3-20