Here's three godless good news pieces that popped into my web browser recently.
I liked Russ Belville's (a.k.a. Radical Russ) "No More Special Rights for Religion" a lot.
I learned about Belville, who lives in Portland, via our shared interest in supporting Measure 91 -- which was passed by voters this month, leading to legalized recreational marijuana in Oregon.
Along with him, I've also wondered why religious reasons for doing this or that should get more legal standing than personal reasons for doing this or that. After all, holding a religious belief is a personal decision. Why should it be treated as deserving of more respect than a non-religious belief?
Why do people who claim belief in something objectively unprovable get a free pass for their silly superstitions? You don’t have to be Sikh or Rastafarian or Mormon or Muslim, it is a creed you choose to live by. That creed may require sacrifices of you, like not shaving, smoking weed, wearing sacred undergarments, or praying prostrate five times a day. Great, make your sacrifices, live your life.
But why do these people then demand that public, secular institutions bend to conform to their silly superstitions based on a non-existent authority? What, the Sikh should be able to keep his long hair and beard and funny hat in the Army, but the hippie shouldn’t? Because the Sikh says God told him to, but the hippie says he just prefers it? Sorry, hippie, your own preferences don’t matter; you should have picked a mythological authority to back you up?
If your belief system, your creed, contains inviolate articles of behavior that are inconsistent with a public institution’s inviolate articles of behavior, at what point does the believer’s faith require sacrifices like being unable to join the military? If this guy were fighting for anyone to have long hair, beards, and funny hats in the military, he’d have my respect. Instead, he just wants a special exemption to the rules because he subscribes to a certain mythology.
Another Oregon story struck a blow for common sense: "Atheists Score Major Win in Federal Court." The subject here is akin to what Belville talked about above -- making sincerely-held non-godly beliefs and ethical values equivalent to religious beliefs in the eye of the law.
On Thursday, October 30, Senior District Judge Ancer Haggerty issued a ruling on American Humanist Association v. United States, a case that was brought by the American Humanist Association (AHA) and Jason Holden, a federal prisoner. Holden pushed for the lawsuit because he wanted Humanism — which the AHA defines as “an ethical and life-affirming philosophy free of belief in any gods and other supernatural forces” — recognized as a religion so that his prison would allow for the creation of a Humanist study group.
Haggerty sided with the plaintiffs in his decision, citing existing legal precedent and arguing that denying Humanists the same rights as groups such as Christianity would be highly suspect under the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which declares that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Lastly, what's not to like about... "Satanic Temple challenges policy allowing religious materials to be distributed at public schools."
Hey, if we truly have religious freedom in this country, every religion (and also belief system, in my opinion) needs to be treated equally. Some people revere God; others Satan; still others, their personal values.
Each to his own, since there is no proof that either God or Satan are anything other than imaginary.
The Orange County School Board in Florida currently allows religious groups to distribute religious material, such as Bibles, at public high schools. Atheists sought the same right — to counter the distribution of Bibles — and won. But the school board decided that things had “gotten out of hand” when members of The Satanic Temple recently announced that they wanted to disseminate material on the “philosophy and practice of Satanism.”
The board will vote in the next few months on whether to alter or eliminate the policy. Perhaps ironically, the Satanic Temple will applaud if religious materials are banned because it believes strongly in the separation of church and state.