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

Overheard (December 2019)

Vol. 36 No. 10 December 2019

A sincere religious belief against vaccination should have the same weight as a sincere belief in whatever Jenny McCarthy says. Discrimination bolstered by bible verses is just like the regular kind. And when those beliefs conflict with laws that protect other people’s health or civil rights, the believer shouldn’t get to wave a magic wand to make the law disappear.

Kate Cohn, in her op-ed, “What’s so special about ‘religious belief’?”

Washington Post, 10-6-19


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 some students not wanting to take courses on religion. 

The State Press, 10-4-19


Consider for a moment how inappropriate it is for [William] Barr, of all people, to have given such a speech. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion; the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has no business denouncing those who exercise that freedom by choosing not to endorse any religion.

Columnist Paul Krugman in his article, “God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator,” writing about how, in a speech, Attorney General William Barr denounced “the threat to America posed by ‘militant secularists,’” whom he accused of conspiring to destroy the “traditional moral order,” blaming them for rising mental illness, drug dependency and violence.

The New York Times, 10-14-19


It has always struck me as strange that a narrative about genocide — Noah and the ark — should be employed as a children’s story. As the other boys and girls in Sunday school focused on the cuteness of the rescued animals, I remember thinking about the mass of humanity desperately clawing to get into Noah’s boat.

Michael Gerson, in his column, “White evangelical Protestants are fully disrobed. And it is an embarrassing sight.”

The Washington Post, 10-29-19


Instead of doing something substantive and helpful, we’re trying to politicize a tree.

Wisconsin Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, commenting on how the Republican-majority Legislature spent time voting to call the holiday tree in the state Capitol rotunda a Christmas tree rather than using that time to pass gun control bills.

Washington Post, 11-12-19


Church was never part of our relationship. And we found that we really enjoyed our friends’ weddings not held in churches.

Janet Belland, in the article by Jean Hopfensperger, “Weddings a less religious affair.” According to The Knot, a national wedding planning website, religious institutions hosted only 22 percent of weddings in 2017, which is down from 41 percent in 2009.

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6-29-19


As long as evangelicals continue to install and celebrate religious bigotry in power out of fear, portraying all nonbelievers as threats coming to get them, things are going to get much, much, worse.

Tyler Broker, in his article, “A religious bigot in power plays the victim,” regarding Attorney General William Barr’s statements about religion and secularism. (See page 23.)

Above the Law, 11-5-19


It is, simply, bigotry enshrined in law; cruelty written into statute. Church and state are currently the very opposite of separated; they are dancing a delirious tango, with LGBTQ rights trampled underfoot. . . . This is the new way of expressing anti-LGBTQ prejudice. Without explicitly stating that you hate LGBTQ people, or wish to deny them equality, you can say that you’re upholding your religious liberty or freedom instead.

Tim Teeman, in his column “Let’s call ‘religious freedom’ by its real name: poisonous, anti-LGBTQ bigotry.”

Daily Beast, 11-5-19


If nothing else, government-sponsored Christianity creates a caste system based on religion. For the government to align itself with one and only one religion is to send a message that (a) there is one true religion and (b) adherence to that religion is the approved way be a true citizen of the polity. All those who do not bow their heads with the government do not belong in the same way (or at all). . . . This encouragement of Christian nationalism is completely avoidable. There is no need for government-sponsored Christianity.

University of Miami School of Law student Caroline Mala Corbin, in her article “The Supreme Court’s facilitation of white Christian Nationalism.”

Alabama Law Review, 10-20-19


I suspect that one of the reasons we’re not hearing much from Democratic operatives about dealing with the God gap in this election cycle is because they think it matters less and less. Sure, frequent attenders continue to vote Republican, but there are fewer and fewer of them — and more and more Nones.

Mark Silk, in his article “Do the Democrats have a religion problem?”

Religion News Service, 10-31-19