Sunday, April 14, 2013

Islamophobia: The Greenwald-Harris Cartoon Contest Edition

Glenn Greenwald and Sam Harris made the news this week, but I think the Chomsky-Hitchens debate is still the classic text in this genre on the appropriate secular humanist response to the dangers of, and relationships between, dogmatism and violence.

And yes, Harris actually challenged Greenwald to a carton contest. Maybe Greenwald should take him up on it?

I'd pay to see a Chomsky-Dawkins debate on this, but a Greenwald-Harris debate? Meh.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Who's writing all those crazy bills in NC?

So who's writing all those crazy bills being introduced in the N.C. General Assembly?

Well, in the case of the divorce bill introduced by Catawba County Representative Austin Allran (Republican), a group called the North Carolina Family Policy Council helped. They run something called "The Truth Project" and see "the roots of today’s abortion movement in the eugenics horror of the past" (more). They even have "policy papers" on intelligent design (written by none other than William Dembski) and the "harmful secular atheistic worldview."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Secular Coalition for North Carolina Growing!

On April Fools’ Day, North Carolina State Representatives Harry Warren and Carl Ford (both Republicans) brought the national spotlight to our state with the introduction of House Bill 494. The “Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013” would, if taken literally, allow our local and state government to establish an official religion and nullify federal constitutional protections for state residents. Political and religious leaders across the state and the nation, and even one of its primary sponsors, were quick to distance themselves from this politically misguided and constitutionally uninformed bill.

Within just a few days North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, also a Republican, pronounced the bill dead on arrival. And according to the Raleigh News and Observer, "even the evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham...disagreed, saying that it wouldn’t be a good idea to establish a state religion.” Not only is an established religion bad government, it’s also bad for religion. As C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance noted, "it is the lack of an established religion that has enabled Christianity, among other religions, to flourish with a freedom in our nation unparalleled in any other nation in the world."

These inexperienced legislators claim that they were responding to a challenge by residents of their districts to sectarian prayers at county commission meetings. Meanwhile, the chairman of the commission was quoted in his local paper as supporting a billboard campaign which advocates continuing sectarian prayers (“in Jesus’ name”) at the meetings. These actions are likely to damage their own case in court.* But they also remind us that all North Carolinians should be ever vigilant in defending our secular government and freedom of conscience and religion. That’s why I, and a growing number of North Carolinians, are proud to support the Secular Coalition for North Carolina.

* This can't help either.

You can contact Representatives Harry Warren and Carl Ford, or the other sponsors of the bill, to let them know how you feel about this and sectarian prayers at government meetings:
Contact information for other state representatives can be found here.