Category Archives: secularissm

The FFRF wins a big one: federal court rules that ministers’ tax-free housing allowances violate the Constitution

You may know that American ministers have some tax advantages under the law: they often get a housing allowance from their church, and that allowance, in contrast to non-ministers who get such perks, is free from taxes.  Here’s the stipulation from the Internal Revenue Service code: A licensed, commissioned, or ordained minister may be able […]

Britain becomes even more secularized: now 53% are “not at all religious”

Although I predicted the increasing secularization of the West a few years ago, that wasn’t hard to do, as the trends were clear. Some readers said I was wrong, but I doubt I was. But what I didn’t predict was how fast this secularization would occur, though I did claim, and still do, that the […]

The New Yorker admits atheism

I’ve been critical before about the New Yorker‘s implicit dissing of science as well as its softness toward religion (see here, here and here, for instance).  After all, the clientele of the magazine is liberal, wealthy, and though they’re probably not religious, they like a gentlemanly, well-fed detente between science and religion. The magazine also has […]

BBC discusses historic court case on church-state separation

In 1956, a 16 year old Pennsylvania high school student named Ellery Schempp finally had enough of his school’s practice—shared by schools in other states (see below)—of reading ten verses from the Bible each morning, followed by a mandatory recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Schempp, who became a physicist as well as a mountaineer (he was part of the first […]

The Freedom From Religion Foundation goes after NASA for giving a grant to study theology

On Monday I described how the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a U.S. government agency, gave a grant of $1.1 million to the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) for studying the religious implications of finding extraterrestrial life. The other partner who contributed money for this initiative is, of course, the John Templeton Foundation. The theology […]

Freedom from Religion Foundation sues Congress for forbidding a secular invocation

On May 5, the unconstitutional National Day of Prayer, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed suit against the U.S. Congress, the office of the Chaplain of the House of Representatives, and the entire United States of America, arguing that FFRF co-President Dan Barker had illegally been denied his right to offer a secular invocation to […]

Switzerland: Muslim students must shake teachers’ hands or get fined

The past few weeks have seen two related episodes involving Muslims’ refusal to shake hands—a religious dictate against members of different sexes touching each other (the same holds, I believe, for ultra-Orthodox Jews). The New York Times has a note that, in Austria, a female schoolteacher sued a Muslim father who refused to shake hands with […]

My Darwin Day talk for the British Humanists

On February 12, I presented the Darwin Day Lecture, an annual event of the estimable British Humanist Association (BHA). The venue was The Institute of Education, part of University College London, and my  title was “Evolution and Atheism: Best friends forever?” I originally didn’t have the question mark, but they asked me to put it in, […]

BBC has a Prayer for the Day and a religious Thought for the Day

Every morning, BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a “prayer for the day” at 5:45 a.m.; you can see the list at this site, and listen to today’s prayer here. Most of these segments begin by setting up a situation and then ending with a formal petition to the Lord. Reverend Richard Littledale of Teddington Baptist Church gives today’s invocation, which […]

Dawkins has no objection to Church of England’s ad in movie theaters; I disagree

Yesterday I wrote about a one-minute ad, “Prayer is for everyone,” that the Church of England wanted to show in British cinemas. The commercial agency that handles ads for UK movies refused, saying that their policy banned the showing of religious or political ads in theaters. I agreed, for reversing that policy would turn theaters into venues for religious […]