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

Overheard (November 2020)

Vol. 37 No. 09 November 2020

Secularism is the cement of a united France. Our challenge is to fight against those who go off the rails in the name of religion, while protecting those who believe in Islam and are full citizens of the Republic.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a speech.

Bloomberg, 10-2-20


Our insistence on religion as a unifying American principle feels just as outdated and illusory as the notion of civility in the White House. And when politicians wield their faith as a means to convince voters that they’re “good,” it strikes me as downright condescending.

Rosa Heyman, deputy editor of Cosmpolitan magazine, in her column, “Will we ever have an atheist president?”

Cosmopolitan, 10-8-20


I assume that to most of the young people who choose, as you had, to get their legal education at the University of Notre Dame, the kingdom of God means the same thing. But I’m sure I’m not the first to point out that it doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone in our great and diverse country. Your God’s kingdom may not be the kingdom of someone else’s God, if that person even has a God.

Linda Greenhouse, in her column, “Questions for Amy Coney Barrett.”

The New York Times, 10-8-20


Saying atheism is a belief system is like saying not going skiing is a hobby.

Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais, in an interview for the U.K. Sunday Times in 2016.

The Week, 10-4-20


A judicial ruling — or a statute passed through the democratic process — in favor of same-sex marriage rights in no way violates the religious freedom of a single human being. To claim otherwise is not to seek religious freedom, but to back theocracy, the rule of civil society by religious dogma.

If a law or ruling only makes sense to the religious, or to followers of a certain faith, it is something a constitutional democracy cannot tolerate. It has to be a policy that could be supported by members of any religion, or of none.

In short, it has to pass the atheist test.

George Pyle, editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, in an op-ed: “American laws must pass the atheist test.”

Salt Lake Tribune, 10-8-20


Trump’s war on scientific expertise during this once-in-a-century pandemic is a reflection of the right’s decades of effort to elevate faith in God as an overriding value, leaving no room for scientific inquiry or medical leadership.

Matthew Dallek, professor at George Washington University’s graduate school of political management, in his op-ed: “The GOP has a long history of ignoring science. Trump turned it into policy.”

The Washington Post, 10-9-20


It’s clear that most atheists won’t fall back on the religion in which they were likely raised. They instead make their decision on what religious group is closest to their perspective when taking the survey, which is clearly agnostics or nothing-in-particulars. In short, the vast majority of atheists have severed ties with all established religions, which means it’s highly unlikely that they would return to the fold.

Ryan P. Burge, data researcher and political science professor at Eastern Illinois University, regarding a survey in 2010 that left off the option of “atheists,” meaning atheists had to pick some other category, among them “agnostic,” “nothing in particular” and “other,” as well as all of the major religions.

10-13-20