American Freethought Podcast

We interview Rachael Berman, Grassroots and Celebrant Program Coordinator for the American Humanist Association (AHA). AHA's Humanist Celebrant program is coordinated by the Humanist Society, an adjunct of AHA.

We discuss the difficulty nonbelievers have had when it comes to finding someone to officate at weddings, funerals, baby naming ceremonies, etc. They're usually faced with the choice of finding a random judge or county clerk, or of enduring a wedding infused with prayer and religious bromides. A number of organizations, including the Center For Inquiry and the AHA are challenging religion's monopoly on private weddings. There is still the occasional bump in the road: CFI recently won an appeal in Indiana against a state law that privileged SOME religions over others, and over secular groups. And in Georgia, a Humanist Celebrant encountered difficulty when a judge balked at her credentials.

And for what it's worth... John Snider is now a Humanist Celebrant, endorsed by the Humanist Society to officiate at weddings and other major life events! If you need help finding an officiant, or just want John to do the deed, give him a call.

Finally, check out this blog entry by John's niece, in which she discusses the difficulty of finding marital advice that doesn't have a religious tinge.

Plus:

American Freethought will be at DragonCon yet again, presenting a live show at 10PM, Friday, August 29th, at the Skeptrack. David won't be able to make this year, but Allison has generously offered to pinch hit for him so AF can keep our DragonCon streak going.

Also, if you're in town for DragonCon, you might as well include annual Star Party in your plans. This year it's on Thursday, August 28th, at the Emory Math and Science Center. This annual event features celebrity skeptics and astronomers, with the proceeds benefiting the Alzheimer's Foundation of American and CosmoQuest.

Direct download: 206_American_Freethought_Podcast_206.mp3
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We interview the Reverend Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. We discuss his (what shouldn't be) controversial position as a Christian minister who advocates for secular government and freedom of all religious--or non-religious--expression. For more about Barry and Americans United visit au.org.

Plus:

We discuss freethought pioneer Ethan Allen (yes, that Ethan Allen), as well as 19th century freethought publisher Charles Chilton Moore.

Direct download: 205_American_Freethought_Podcast_205.mp3
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A recent Pew Research poll shows that Americans express a (perhaps not so) surprising unhappiness at the prospect of an immediate family member marrying an atheist.

Plus:

The Secular Coalition of America has fired executive director Edwina Rogers, after just two years of service. Rogers has served under a cloud of controversy since her original appointment because of her previous years of service to Republican causes. Nonetheless, SCA has made great strides during Rogers' tenure. Let's hope they can find a suitable replacement soon.

John and Allison go with Pastafarian-themed "prestige" car license plates. Will anyone notice? Will anyone care?

Direct download: 204_American_Freethought_Podcast_204.mp3
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Congressman Louie "Don't Cast Aspersions on My Asparagus" Gohmert has a long history of saying ridiculous things. His latest blatherment occurred during the recent Judiciary Committee hearing on "The State of Religious Liberty in the United States," in which we wasted precious time nitpicking the flavor of Barry Lynn's Christianity. Rev. Lynn is both an ordained minister and <gasp!> head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Apparently Gohmert a) doesn't like that a supposed Christian like Lynn should be advocating for religious freedom and b) doesn't think that Lynn is an authentic Christian if he doesn't believe exactly as Gohmert does.  Of course, Lynn's personal religious beliefs are largely immaterial (or should be) when it comes to support of the Constitution.

Also:

In Valent v Board of Review, a New Jersey court has ruled that a hospital's policy of allowing only religion-based objections to employee vaccinations violates the Constitution. While this is a victory for neutrality with respect to religion, it fails to resolve the question of whether nonsensical (but otherwise secular) anti-vax objections should be allowed.

Sigh. Neil deGrasse Tyson's reboot of COSMOS has come to an end. Nonetheless, it'll be available on disk and will likely enjoy a long life in reruns.

Plus: The Baseball Bat of Doubt and other listener feedback.

Announcements:

Finally, if you’re in Atlanta June 21-22, check out the Atlanta Coalition of Reason’s Summer Solstice Launch Weekend!

Direct download: 203_American_Freethought_Podcast_203.mp3
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American Atheists mull their next move after the court turns down their lawsuit to declare religion-based tax exemption unconstitutional. See AA v Shulman.

Plus:

The son (and grandson!) of snake-handling preachers who died handling snakes has SURVIVED being bitten by a snake. Now THAT'S news.

family in Pakistan stoned their daughter IN FRONT OF A COURTHOUSE and are expressing no remorse.

Finally, if you’re in Atlanta June 21-22, check out the Atlanta Coalition of Reason’s Summer Solstice Launch Weekend!

Direct download: 202_American_Freethought_Podcast_202.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 12:12 AM

We interview Linda Stephens, co-plaintiff (along with Susan Galloway) in the recent Supreme Court case Greece v. Galloway, in which the court ruled that prayer--even sectarian, predominantly Christian prayer--before city council meetings does not violate the Constitution. Several secular groups have already launched compaigns in response, and at least one Satanist has offered to provide the invocation at a city council meeting in Florida.

Plus:

More bad news for separation of church and state. The Massachussetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance at public schools does not violate the Constitution.

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy "10 Commandments" Moore believes the Constitution is only for Christians anyway.

Finally, if you're in Atlanta June 21-22, check out the Atlanta Coalition of Reason's Summer Solstice Launch Weekend!

Direct download: 201_American_Freethought_Podcast_201.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 11:20 AM

Whoohoo! It's taken nearly seven years, but we finally crossed the 200 mark.

For this special episode, we interview biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman, whose latest book is How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (available in hardcover, in audio, and for Kindle). For more about Bart and his work visit bartdehrman.com.

Plus:

We discuss Damon Linker's puzzling essay "Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion," which asserts that atheism is incapable of explaining altruism in human beings. Huh.

John recommends Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt: A History (available in paperback, in audio and for Kindle), an interesting look at how questioning minds have overturned orthodoxy and challenged the reigning paradigms, from ancient Greece and China to the 21st century.

Direct download: 200_American_Freethought_Podcast_200.mp3
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We look at the controversy in some Christian circles regarding the recent "blood moon" lunar eclipse. Is it a sign of the End Times? (Probably not.)

Plus:

Parents in Oviedo, Florida claim a public school teacher stopped their kindergartener from praying before lunch. Is this a legitimate beef, or just a cheap publicity stunt engineered by a father who just happens to work for a Christian book publisher who just happens to be publishing a book (by a Fox News personality, no less) about how put-upon Christians are in the U S of A nowadays.

Louisiana lawmakers are advancing a bill that would declare the Holy Bible as the official state book. Really.

Check out Chuck Hall's new book Playing Chess with Pigeons, a collection of refutations of common religious attacks against nonbelievers.

Announcements:

Atlanta SkeptiCamp is May 2-4, 2014! For more visit atlantaskeptics.com/skepticamp

Atlanta Coalition of Reason ("ATL CoR") is holding a pair of kick-off events June 21-22, featuring rapper Greydon Square, satirist Sam Singleton, author Jeremiah Camara, and comedian Steve "The King of Consciousness" Hill. Tickets are on sale now! For more visit unitedcor.org/atl

Direct download: 199_American_Freethought_Podcast_199.mp3
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As promised in podcast 198, here's David's reading of an article from the old Secular Nation Podcast, in which Nate Phelps tells of his experience growing up under his infamous father, the late Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church.

Direct download: Secular_Nation_July_2009_Nate_Phelps.mp3
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This summer's Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case will decide whether or not private, for-profit employers can opt out of federal legislation based on sincerely held religious belief. (Cartoon from RobRogers.com.)

Fred Phelps, founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, has died.

If you live in the Washington, DC, area, check out author Lawrence Wright's new play Camp David (about the Egypt-Israel peace accord brokered by Jimmy Carter). It stars Richard Thomas and Ron Rifkin.

The Baseball Bat of Doubt returns! We read an excerpt from David Mahlar's Kindle short "Forming a Worldview: One Man's Journey."

Finally, if you're in metro Atlanta, put the upcoming SkeptiCamp on your calendar, May 3-4, 2014.

Direct download: 198_American_Freethought_Podcast_198.mp3
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