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

Overheard (Nov. 2019)

Vol. 36 No. 09 November 2019

I think Democrats have been a little allergic to talking about faith, and it’s largely for a very good reason, which is that we passionately believe that when you’re running for office, or when you’re in office, you have an obligation to treat people of any religion and people of no religion equally. It’s a basic American principle.

Pete Buttigieg, Democratic presidential candidate, speaking to Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show.”

CBS, 9-5-19


I think it’s going to be a while before we figure out exactly how this is all going to fit. Religion in this country is shifting a lot right now.

Margaret McGuinness, professor of religion and theology at La Salle University
in Philadelphia, on the dearth of women seeking to become Catholic nuns. In 1970, there were 160,931 religious sisters in the country. In 2018, there were 44,117.

Columbus Dispatch, 8-26-19


[People] hate religion because, at a moment to stand up and be counted on the right side of history, religion is used as moral cover for despicable behavior.

Timothy Egan, in his column, “Why people hate religion.”

The New York Times, 8-30-19


We focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies. The church today needs a profound conversion in this area.

Pope Francis, during informal conversations with Jesuit clergy in Africa.

Religion News Service, 10-3-19


The indictment alleges an appalling abuse of power by church officials who preyed on vulnerable homeless people with false promises of a warm bed and meals. Instead these victims were held captive, stripped of their humble financial means, stripped of their identification, their freedom and their dignity.

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer of the Southern District of California on how Imperial Valley Ministry took in homeless and vulnerable people, forcing them to turn over their money and welfare benefits, and to panhandle six days a week with 100 percent of proceeds going to the church. The church also took their identification and all of their personal belongings, so that even if they wanted to leave, they couldn’t, prosecutors said.

Washington Post, 9-11-19


I would underscore the concerns raised by the Freedom From Religion Foundation about the expansion of the Jesus Lunch to Memorial and Verona high schools. . . . Antisemitic slurs were offered to Jewish students; other non-participants were similarly singled out and felt harassed. . . . These and other consequences came about as a result of one group of people boldy asserting a constitutional right but not considering any of the effects that their actions have on others.

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch, in a letter to the editor, regarding high schools in the Madison, Wis., area having “Jesus lunches” hosted by parents.

The Capital Times, 9-25-19


In Japan, the seasons are treated with the sort of passion and reverence usually associated with religion. Every time the cherries begin to blossom, people flock into the parks because, in 10 days or so, the frothing pink flowers will be gone; and every time the maple leaves blaze in late November, my Japanese friends and family throng into temple gardens in much the same spirit that people of any faith may gather in temples or cathedrals. To be joined in a congregation; to be reminded of something larger than ourselves, keeping us in place; to catch moments of light in a season of mounting darkness.

Pico Iyer, “The beauty of the ordinary.”

The New York Times, 9-22-19


Instead of moving away from Gilead, we started moving towards it, especially in the United States.

Author Margaret Atwood, quoted recently in London.

The New York Times, 9-15-19


History does not often give the satisfaction of a sudden and lasting turning point. History tends to unfold in messy cycles — actions and reactions, revolutions and counterrevolutions — and even semipermanent changes are subtle and glacial. But the rise of religious non-affiliation in America looks like one of those rare historical moments that is neither slow, nor subtle, nor cyclical. You might call it exceptional.

Derek Thompson, in his article, “Three Decades Ago, America Lost Its Religion. Why?”

The Atlantic, 9-26-19


Knowledge is always power. If you’re afraid to take a course because you’re worried it’ll change your beliefs, that’s not a very good sign.

Nadia Muraweh, outreach director for the Muslim Students Association of Arizona State University, on students not wanting to take courses on religion.

The State Press, 10-4-19