Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Overheard (April 2019)

Vol. 36 No. 03 April 2019

Under that policy, a Christian prisoner may have a minister of his own faith accompany him into the execution chamber to say his last rites. But if an inmate practices a different religion — whether Islam, Judaism, or any other — he may not die with a minister of his own faith by his side. That treatment goes against the Establishment Clause’s core principle of denominational neutrality.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, writing the dissent, after the court voted 5-4 to not allow a Muslim man have his imam by his side as he was executed.

The New York Times, 2-10-19


If, after so many years, the church feels no urgency, then it cannot expect to stanch the hemorrhage of credibility and trust it has suffered.

Editorial, “The Vatican finally needs to offer more than thoughts and prayers on sexual abuse,” in which it discusses how the Vatican was downplaying expectations for the Conferences of Catholic Bishops to shift the church toward a new era of accountability and transparency.

The New York Times, 2-19-19


We were caught in the story of Christianity that was centuries and centuries and centuries old, regardless of the fact we could say with a lot of confidence that the story was not entirely true — even its most important and sacred beliefs. Once I realized that, then I was kind of screwed.

Atheist minister Gretta Vosper, who realized that her congregants thought she was talking about an all-knowing, all-seeing spirit who answered prayers rather than a metaphorical spirit.

The New York Times, 2-1-19


Those who yearn for this becoming a Christian nation are wrong. Now all beliefs are protected. Freedom of religion must include freedom from religion. Believe what you will, but don’t crowd mine out. No one should use religion to harm another.

Ed Fisher in his op-ed column, “The only wall we need separates church and state.”

Alma (Mich.) Morning Sun, 2-20-19


The pope talks and talks, but doesn’t do anything.

Gianni Bisoli, who says he was abused by priests, beginning at age 9, for seven years at the Antonio Provolo Institute, a Catholic school for the deaf in Verona, Italy.

The New York Times, 2-22-19


A large number of Catholics are and will be angry and confused. We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a church.

Sister Veronica Openibo, one of only a handful of women invited to the Vatican summit, on the consequences years of abuse is having on the global Catholic congregation.

NBC News, 2-23-19


Funds that once went to Planned Parenthood could flow instead to anti-abortion groups that promote so-called natural family planning. Unless the courts halt the new policy, struggling women who need refills on their birth control pills could get federally funded lectures on the rhythm method instead.

Columnist Michelle Goldberg, in her op-ed, “The Republicans of Gilead,” about the Trump administration’s prohibiting Title X, a federal family-planning program, from funding organizations that also provide abortions

The New York Times, 2-26-19


What is happening is not a personal moral lapse, to be treated as a sin to address through penitence and prayer, but a crime in which the church has been an accomplice. Priests who are credibly shown to abuse children should be thrown out of the pulpit and identified to civil authority; bishops who cover up their actions should be laicized and exposed, and the order to do so must come from the top, from the pontiff.

Editorial, “The Catholic Church’s ‘Ravenous Wolves,’” on the systemic sexual abuse and cover-up.

The New York Times, 2-26-19


At present the Religious Right has a tremendous amount of power, but they are getting older. Surveys show young Americans are rejecting institutional religion because they identify it with the Religious Right and values that they find off-putting, and frankly, immoral.

Dan Linford, president of the Virginia Tech Freethinkers, as quoted in the article, “Is America losing faith? Atheism on the rise but still in the shadows.”

The London Telegraph, 2-8-19