Overheard (June/July 2018)

I can stand on a beach at sunrise with the most devout of religious people . . .
and I can weep with awe at this beautiful planet we live on. . . . I don’t use “God” and I don’t use “spirituality.” Those aren’t my particular terms. But “awe” is a good word that I do feel.

Swimmer Diana Nyad, an atheist, when asked if she feels more connected to her spirituality when she’s swimming in the ocean.

Sacramento News and Review, 3-8-18

It’s crazy for the government to hire a member of the clergy to lead Congress in prayer, unless somebody repealed the First Amendment while I was distracted.

Gail Collins, New York Times columnist, after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan dismissed House Chaplain Pat Conroy (and later reinstated him).

New York Times, 5-1-18

I used to think that the left was a little strident in demanding strict separation of church and state. But my views have changed as I’ve watched the Republican Party constantly try to inject Christianity into everyday political life. . . . Anyway, we don’t need a House chaplain so that Paul Ryan can fire him on his own way out the door.

Bret Stephens, New York Times columnist.

New York Times, 5-1-18

The state’s highest court has reached the only logical decision it could. The church/state line is not one that should be crossed or easily compromised. It’s a principle, indeed, that is as old as the nation or this state.

Editorial in response to FFRF’s victory in the Morris County, N.J., decision that the county had violated the Constitution in awarding grants to churches for preservation.

Glen Rock (N.J.) Gazette, 5-4-18

Many young people came to regard religion . . .
as judgmental, homophobic, hypocritical and too political.

E.J. Dionne, columnist for the Washington Post, in his column “No wonder there’s an exodus from religion.”

Washington Post, 5-6-18

Only 10 percent of Americans claim to be full-blown atheists. They deserve respect. To believe with seriousness that no hidden order or purpose whatsoever lies beyond the material world is to shoulder a weighty challenge in finding meaning in life.

Columnist D.J. Tice, in his column “Belief in God means what in America?”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5-6-18

One wants to be free to choose his death when death is at the appropriate time. I am very appreciative of the hospitality of the Swiss Federation and the ability that one has here to come to an end gracefully. [I would like to be remembered] as an instrument of freeing the elderly from the need to pursue their life irrespective.

Australian botanist David Goodall, 104, a nonbeliever, who gave himself a fatal dose of barbiturate on May 10, in Switzerland. He flew to Switzerland because Australian law did not permit him aid to take his own life.

New York Times, 5-10-18

If the irreligious ever get serious about flexing their muscles politically, a lot could change in this country, particularly on church-state separation issues.

Ed Kilgore, in the article, “Americans with no religion greatly outnumber white evangelicals.”

New York magazine, 5-11-18

With hope for a two-state solution nearly dead, current trends suggest that a Jewish minority will come to rule over a largely disenfranchised Muslim majority in all the land under Israel’s control. A rising generation of Americans may see an apartheid state with a Trump Square in its capital and wonder why it’s supposed to be our friend.

New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, in her column, “A grotesque spectacle in Jerusalem,” reacting to the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem while 59 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured at the fence separating Gaza from Israel.

New York Times, 5-14-18

Removing religious liberty protections in the name of religious freedom taints the cause. Honoring freedom for faith-based providers, while taking it away from people receiving services, is wrong.

Melissa Rogers, in her op-ed column, “President Trump just unveiled a new White House ‘faith’ office. It actually weakens religious freedom.”

Washington Post, 5-14-18

I’m exactly the opposite of religious, I’m anti-religious. I find religious people hideous. I hate the religious lies. It’s all a big lie. . . . I have such a huge dislike. It’s not a neurotic thing, but the miserable record of religion. I don’t even want to talk about it, it’s not interesting to talk about the sheep referred to as believers. When I write, I’m alone. It’s filled with fear and loneliness and anxiety, and I never needed religion to save me.

Acclaimed author Philip Roth, who died May 22, in an interview in 2005 with The Guardian’s Martin Krasnik.

The Guardian, 12-14-05

We have a strong protection of religious rights in this country, and it’s supposed to be a shield. But they are using it as a sword. The government is enabling people to force their religious beliefs on others as a condition to maintain their relationships with their children.

Human rights attorney Julie F. Kay, commenting on judicial decisions placing ultra-Orthodox Jewish law above secular law in New York.

New York Times, 5-27-18

Evolution will remain part of the education curriculum.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, after hearing that Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools Diane Douglas was working to weaken the state’s science standards by casting doubt on the theory of evolution.

Arizona Central, 5-29-18