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

Overheard (November 2021)

Vol. 38 No. 09 November 2021

The day the Taliban took control, I was thinking: This is the end of life for women. 

Zayba, 17, who survived a bombing at her school in May, and no longer can attend school after the Taliban takeover.

The New York Times, 9-21-21


Even if an employee’s religious belief is determined to be sincere, it’s the employer who decides what the reasonable accommodation will be. It does not have to be the accommodation requested by the employee.

Andrea Hsu and Shannon Bond in their article, “Getting a religious exemption to a vaccine mandate may not be easy. Here’s why.”

NPR, 9-28-21


If individual religious objections to vaccines can supersede mandates designed to protect the public, we are headed for a society where anyone can invoke a “deeply held belief” to choose to ignore any law they wish. This flies in the face not only of common sense, but also the Constitution.

Helen Wolfson, in the article, “Religious exemptions to vaccines further erode the wall between church and state.”

Charlotte Observer, 3-28-21


Purveyors of misinformation are so adept at manipulating people that they have convinced ordinarily rational people that they are so entitled as to be immune from consequences. . . . Fanaticism is not patriotism; threats are not civil discourse; and misinformation is deadly.

Nathaniel Waugh, a member of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Board of Trustees and the manager of Policy Advocacy and Training at the Nevada Homeless Alliance, in an op-ed.

Nevada Independent, 10-1-21


While most pop songs are secular by default — in that they are about the things of this world, making no mention of the divine or spiritual — “Imagine” is explicitly secularist. In [John] Lennon’s telling, religion is an impediment to human flourishing — something to be overcome, transcended. As a scholar of secularism and a devout fan of the Beatles, I have always been fascinated by how “Imagine,” perhaps the first and only atheist anthem to be so enormously successful, has come to be so widely embraced in America. 

Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College, writing about the 50th anniversary of the release of “Imagine.”

Religion News Service, 9-16-21


I would say that the misinformation is perhaps a greater challenge that we face than the Covid-19 virus. We have the vaccine. We can beat the Covid-19 virus. I’m not sure we can beat misinformation.

Kevin Dick, Washoe County (Nev.) health district officer. 

Associated Press, 9-29-21


For these folks, facts mean nothing; membership and identity, everything. Groupishness, in-/out-group differentiation . . . is much stronger on the right.

William Bernstein, neurologist and author of The Delusions of Crowds, on what motivates the decision-making of people on the ends of the political spectrum.

Vox.com, 10-1-21


If religious people can opt out of secular laws they find sinful, then maybe the rest of us should be able to opt out of religious laws we find immoral. That’s right: immoral. We act as if religious people are the only ones who follow a moral compass and the rest of us just wander around like sheep in search of avocado toast. But you don’t need to believe in God or particular religious tenets to have a strong sense of right and wrong.

Kate Cohen, in her op-ed, “If they’re going to keep passing religious laws, we’re going to need exemptions.”

Washington Post, 9-29-21


We need to quit coddling evangelicals and allowing them to use these moral issues to hide behind, because it’s very clear that that’s not what the issue is. The issue is that they believe in anti-vaxxing, they believe in racism, they believe in anti-immigration, they believe that only Republicans should run the country and they believe in white supremacy.

Anthea Butler, a professor of religious studies and Africana studies and the chair of the religious studies department at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book White Evangelical Racism, as quoted in the Charles Blow column, “White evangelicals shun morality for power.”

The New York Times, 9-19-21


They turn out to be a policy in search of a rationale — ostensibly designed to protect religious faith, but instead overwhelmingly used in bad faith. . . . People have all sorts of reasons for not wanting vaccines. But it’s best for everyone if we leave God out of it.

Gilad Edelman, in the op-ed, “Religious exemptions for vaccine mandates shouldn’t exist.”

Wired.com, 10-5-21


The goal is to protect the gains made by the Christian right during Donald Trump’s presidency, especially in the federal courts, and to restore the White House and Congress to Republican control. The biggest prize, of course, is the U.S. Supreme Court, where — not coincidentally — all three of Trump’s appointees declined to block the Texas abortion bill from taking effect, signaling their willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sarah Posner, in her article, “How the Christian right embraced voter suppression.”

Vox, 9-28-21


In Mississippi and Texas, a gaggle of mostly conservative Christian men is forcing religious practices, beliefs and views on every woman and doctor in their states. If the newly appointed Christian majority of the Supreme Court upholds those laws, trust in America’s greatest secular institution will be irreparably harmed. Gorsuch and his colleagues are called upon to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not the word of God.

Editorial: “We supported Neil Gorsuch; now we implore him to support women’s liberty.”

Denver Post, 9-27-21