Overheard (September 2019)

Modern human rights are grounded on the dignity inherent in every human being. They are not God-given rights, or Trump-given rights, and they apply to people of all faiths and to those who have none.

Columnist Richard Cohen, “Trump’s ominous attempt to redefine human rights.”

The New York Times, 7-13-19

I just want to say to my atheist friends, some of my best friends are atheists. And some of them are also some of the best people I know. And it is ridiculous that people would think you are somehow less moral or less worthy of the full protection and enjoyment of all of our virtues as a society because of your religious beliefs.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, in an interview.

Reddit.com, 7-8-19

People don’t know about all the hard-won battles anymore: gay folks fighting for their rights, the separation of church and state. . . .  for a good long time we had a national conversation about things that now we’re having to reiterate.

Whoopi Goldberg, in a profile Q&A.

The New York Times Magazine, 7-14-19

What are 26 bishops doing in our legislature, making us the only democracy with a theocratic element? True, the men in frocks don’t look out of place in the whole creaking edifice of the House of Lords. But the high number of religious members of both houses is wildly out of kilter with the wider population.

Polly Toynbee, in her column, “Faith in religion is dwindling, but when will British politics reflect that?”

The Guardian, 7-11-19

All four of these men have stood strong in defense of religious liberty, despite unimaginable pressure, and the American people stand with them. The United States calls upon the governments of Eritrea, Mauritania, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to respect the freedom of conscience and let these men go.

Vice President Mike Pence, in asking to release blogger Raif Badawi, who is serving a 10-year/1,000-lash sentence for insulting Islam, and three others.

Reuters, 7-18-19

After all, this “character counts” and “personal integrity” and “political leadership” was central to what a lot of evangelicals argued when Bill Clinton was president. And now that it’s Donald Trump, they’ve decided to push that aside, which means that morality for them was a means to an end, not an end. It was something to be used as a political weapon. I think a lot of these white evangelical leaders are doing more to hurt Christianity than the so-called New Atheists ever could.

Peter Wehner, veteran of three Republican administrations, speaking on Michael Smerconish’s show on CNN.

CNN, 7-20-19

I have many fellow travelers, very few publicly. I think there’s still fear of this conventional wisdom that being an atheist or agnostic or a nonbeliever is somehow the worst possible thing in politics. My experience has been that that’s not the case, but how you do it matters.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, on being the only “out” nonreligious member of Congress.

The Guardian, 8-3-19