July 9, 2012
Hey, Religion Writers: You're Doing It Again!

My friend and colleague Amy Levin typed up a beautiful little tome to all those tiresome religion tropes.

#1. The Loaded Term

#2. Conscience in Chief

#3. Religion: What is it good for?

#4. Atheism vs. Religion

#5. We’re getting more - or less? - religious

Trust me - you want to read this article.

July 1, 2012
If I was certain that/where I wanted another tattoo, I think this would be the one.

If I was certain that/where I wanted another tattoo, I think this would be the one.

June 19, 2012
It’s beautiful! Occupy Catholics General Assembly on Freedoms.
Art by Mary Valle.

It’s beautiful! Occupy Catholics General Assembly on Freedoms.

Art by Mary Valle.

May 29, 2012
The Politics of Religion

In a dramatic stunt, some Catholic groups have filed lawsuits claiming that President Obama has violated their religious freedom by including contraceptives in health care coverage.

"…full of indignation but built on air."

"This is a clear partisan play. The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church’s doctrine on everyone."

March 23, 2012
Don't Spy On Me! The NYCLU's Spy Files Campaign

via New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) - American Civil Liberties Union of New York State

The NYPD is watching us. Here is your chance to watch them. Find out if you are under government surveillance for your political or religious activities. File a Freedom of Information request today.

DO IT. Me, I’m pretty sure I’ve been on a watch list since my junior year of high school. All those library checkout lists about Islam.

March 14, 2012
NYU SSC condemns illegal NYPD surveillance

Received today. Thank you, SSC!

MEMORANDUM

TO:             Members of the NYU Community

FROM:        Albert Cotugno, Chairperson, Student Senators Council      

RE:             NYPD Surveillance of NYU Students

Recent news reports have revealed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been engaged in the prolonged and secret surveillance of Muslim college students for the past several years.  In these reports, New York University was listed as one of the schools targeted, although specific details as to the nature of the surveillance at NYU have yet to be released.

The SSC echoes the concern of many New Yorkers about the existence of this surveillance program.  We acknowledge and share the rightful outrage that many of our students have expressed.  We strongly oppose both the invasion of an individual’s privacy based solely on his or her religion and the violation of constitutional rights under the guise of national security.  The SSC stands united with our fellow students against this breach of their rights to freedom, security, and safety.  Students should not have to live with the fear that forwarding an email, inviting other students to club events, attending social events, or participating in legal protests will be cause for police suspicion.  NYU must remain a safe place where students feel free to learn, grow, and express themselves freely.

While the specific details of surveillance of NYU members have yet to come forth, we encourage any students with knowledge about specific incidents of surveillance to report them to the University immediately.

We call upon our elected officials to take steps to safeguard the fundamental rights of every New York resident and especially our students.  Further investigation into the details of the surveillance must be undertaken.

In the interest of transparency and justice, we also call on the NYPD to release all documents related to the unjust surveillance of NYU students.

Finally, we call on the NYU administration to continue its support of the NYU community by actively working to uncover the extent of the surveillance conducted on its students and standing aggressively and publicly against these shameful practices.

March 8, 2012
"Separation means separation, not something less. Jefferson’s metaphor in describing the relation between Church and State speaks of a ‘wall of separation,’ not a fine line easily overstepped. The public school is at once the symbol of our democracy and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny. In no activity of the State is it more vital to keep out divisive forces than in its schools, to avoid confusing, not to say fusing, what the Constitution sought to keep strictly apart. ‘The great American principle of eternal separation’ — Elihu Root’s phrase bears repetition — is one of the vital reliances of our Constitutional system for assuring unities among our people stronger than our diversities. It is the Court’s duty to enforce this principle in its full integrity."

Justice Frankfurter, concurrence, McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 212 (1948). To read further, see The Case Against School Prayer.

On this date in 1948, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, McCollum v. Board of Education, barring religious instruction in public schools, was handed down, with a vote of 8 to 1. The dramatic case was brought by Vashti McCollum, a mother in Champaign, Ill., on behalf of her son, Jim. In her enduring book about the challenge, One Woman’s Fight, Vashti described how Jim was punished by teachers and teased by students for not taking part in religious instruction illegally taught in his public school. Although she lost at the first two court levels and was treated as “a very unpopular woman,” Vashti did not give up. Her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court resulted in a stunning victory for separation of church and state, which is still the prevailing precedent in public school law today. Vashti was an Honorary Officer of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She died at age 93 in 2006.

(via FFRF)

March 7, 2012
Free To Be You And Me

My latest post at The Revealer:

The Swiss upper house on Monday buried a motion to ban the burqa, which had passed the lower house in September of 2011 by a margin of 101 to 77.

The proposal, dubbed “Down with masks,” could have eventually banned full-face veils including the Muslim burqa from public transportation or government buildings. Proposed by SVP (Swiss People’s Party) representative Oskar Freysinger – of the same party that lead a 2009 campaign to prevent the construction of new minarets – the ban followed similar movements in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, countries which have banned veils or are considering such measures.

Read the rest…

February 28, 2012
Cardinal Who Once Compared Gay People to Klan Warns Church is Being "Despoiled"

Via the website Catholic Culture, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George frets that Catholic hospitals will be forced to close down rather than comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement.

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