American Freethought Podcast

We interview Bill Reel, practicing Mormon, defender of the faith, and host of the Mormon Discussion Podcast. We discuss his conversion to Mormonism as a teen, and how he squares the latest scientific and historical revelations with his Mormon beliefs. For more visit MormonDiscussionPodcast.org.

Plus:

Former porn star Asia Carrera (born Jessica Steinhauser, now Asia Lemmon) had her new driver's license photo taken while wearing a colander to show her devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Ms. Lemmon was touched by many a noodly appendage back in the day.

Direct download: 215_American_Freethought_Podcast_215.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 3:41 PM

It's time once again to celebrate the non-existent War on Christmas. For those heathens who enjoy celebrating the holidays, here are our recommendations for gifts for nonbelievers. Even if you don't like our suggestions, you can buy whatever you want at Amazon.com through American Freethought using this link.

David's Recommendations:

EvolveFish.com - You're sure to find something on this site that will tickle the fancy of any nonbeliever.

The Unbelievers DVD - It's Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss as they travel across the globe, speaking publicly about the importance of science and reason in the modern world.

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner - The authors of Freakonomics return, taking us inside their thought process and teaching us all to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally—to think, that is, like a Freak.

Tickets to the 2nd Annual Freethought Cruise with David Silverman, President of American Atheists (Jan 26 - Feb 2, 2015).

Gift Membership to Freedom from Religion Foundation.

John's Recommendations:

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Blu-Ray - Neil deGrasse Tyson's update to Carl Sagan's classic 1980 science series was a special treat on TV earlier this year. Now it's available on Blu-Ray.

Storm: The Book by Tim Minchin, artwork by DC Turner and Tracy King. This is an illustrated edition of Minchin's popular anti-woo beat poem, made famous by King's animated short. Foreword by Neil Gaiman, introduction by Tim Minchin. If you’re lucky you can find the hardcover limited edition signed by Tim. Otherwise, it’s available in paperback. Also, check out Timminchin.com/stormthebook 

Science…for Her! Megan Amram's satirical science-book-for-girls, available in hardcover, for Kindle, or as an audiobook.

Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. This honest-to-goodness brick-and-mortar store in Seattle not only has nifty space- and science-related gifts (t-shirts, books, posters, etc.), it's also an extension of The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for the young people of Earth.

Newton's Attic - If you're looking to donate to a charity on behalf of a friend or family member, consider Lexington, Kentucky based Newton's Attic. Founded by David Cloyd in 1998, the organization's mission is to inspire young people to embrace science, math and engineering. Donate between now and December 11th at BGgives.org/newtonsattic. Newton's Attic is participating in the 2014 GoodGiving Challenge, and receiving donations through this site does two things: automatically generates a tax donation receipt for the donor and helps them achieve our goals during this challenge. In fact, donations between $10 and $1,000 made at noon EST or very shortly thereafter on December 11th will receive a 50% match thanks to a challenge grant. After December 11th, donate via check to Newton’s Attic, 4974 Old Versailles Road, Lexington, KY 40510; contact them by phone (859-233-3337) for a credit card donation; or go to the “Support Newton’s Attic” button on the left side of their homepage or to the “Donate” button on the bottom of this page: http://newtonsattic.com/support.html.

Plus:

It's almost over, but this month is Openly Secular Month!

School administrators in Montgomery County, Maryland have removed "Christmas" and "Yom Kippur" from the school calendar rather than add the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha. Kids still get off on  Christmas and Yom Kippur, but the holidays just won't get listed as such. So much for inclusiveness.

Finally, in Fayette County, Georgia, county commissioner David Barlow (a Republican) greeted newly elected commisioner Pota Coston (an African-American and a Democrat) by issuing a statement bemoaning the "evil" of the "Demoncrats" and vowing to ensure a Republican wins the White House in 2016 "in the mighty name of Jesus." He later issued a non-apology apology, blaming his stupidity on his "passion for Jesus Christ" (which is probably correct but for different reasons). It's not surprising that such morons exist, but it is disturbing that they get elected.

Direct download: 214_American_Freethought_Podcast_214.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 11:15 PM

The Republican victories in the 2014 midterms are bad news not just for church-state separation, but also for reason-based policies on climate change and a host of other issues.

Meanwhile...

A self-proclaimed Satanist has damaged the controversial Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma capitol. We recommend legal means in removing such monuments, not vandalism.

Voters in Alabama have overwhelmingly approved an amendment that will ban application of "foreign law" (like, oh, say, Sharia law) in Alabama courts and prohibit the state from giving full faith and credit to out-of-state acts (like, oh, say, gay marriage) that conflict with Alabama law. Look for this one to be declared unconstitutional after much waste of attorney hours and taxpayer funds.

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld gay marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. This is in stark contrast to rulings by other Circuit Courts that have declared such bans unconstitutional. This sets the stage for what will certainly be on of the most-watched Supreme Court showdowns in recent years.

For movies with a freethought spin, David recommends Snowpiercer (starring Chris Evans) and Hercules (starring Dwayne Johnson).

Direct download: American_Freethought_Podcast_213.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 12:52 AM

Signature Healthcare, a Louisville-based company that runs dozens of nursing homes, has taken religion in the workplace to a whole new level. "Spirituality" is one of their three core competencies. They even have a Vice President of Spirituality!

Plus:

Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, basking in the glow of his recent Supreme Court victory, has announced plans to build an $800 million Bible Museum just two blocks off the National Mall in Washington, DC.

There are a lot of Republican bad candidates for political office in the 2014 midterms, but Texas Lt. Governor candidate Dan Patrick might just take the cake. Mother Jones has a great exposé on him. Patrick is almost certain to win. Congratulations, Texas!

Finally, Pat Robertson (bless his withered, addled heart) is at it again. This time he's warning people not to go to Kenya lest they get AIDS from the towels there.

Direct download: 212_American_Freethought_Podcast_212.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 10:32 PM

Ben Affleck's cable-TV clash with Bill Maher and Sam Harris over liberalism and its (lack of) cricitism of Islam overlaps with Reza Aslan's recent criticisms of Maher and Harris. Is Islam a religion of peace hijacked by a handful of extremists, or does the orthodox core of Islam inconveniently overlap with the violent policies enacted by the likes of ISIS and al-Qaeda? Watch the sparks fly here. Also, check out this and this... and this... oh, and this, then see which side is closer to the truth.

Plus:

SCOTUS declines to hear numerous appeals from states seeking to overturn federal court rulings against same-sex marriage bans. Is this a signal from the Court that marriage equality has won, or is this a strategic pause awaiting the right opportunity for a conservative masterstroke?

Meanwhile, SCOTUS hears a ridiculous (but hilarious) case involving the religious infringement ramifications of state prison bans on beards. Is that a tiny revolver in your Van Dyke, or are you just exercising your First Amendment rights?

Announcements:

NUTS! Here's your opportunity to offer Kickstarter support for a documentary about the controversial fertility quack John Brinkley, could claimed he could cure men's problems by... well, let's not spoil the suprise.

Nonfiction book recommendations: John suggests John Hersey's atomic classic Hiroshima, as well as Ann Heller's 2009 (refreshingly non-hagiographic) Ayn Rand and the World She Made.

Direct download: 211_American_Freethought_Podcast_211.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 4:17 PM

We discuss Sam Harris's new book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Waking Up is available September 9, 2014 in hardcover, for Kindle, and as an audiobook. For more about Sam Harris visit SamHarris.org.

Direct download: 210_American_Freethought_Podcast_210.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 7:34 PM

We interview comedian Ian Harris, whose new special Critical & Thinking is available now on iTunes and video-on-demand (check your local availability). As you'll hear, Harris is one of us, a skeptic and atheist whose humor tackles such topics as religion, the paranormal, astrology, pop-mysticism and alternative medicine. You can befriend him at facebook.com/comediocre.

Plus:

Our DragonCon wrap-up.

We mourn the passing of physicist, philosopher, author and skeptic Victor Stenger (1935-2014).

Direct download: 209_American_Freethought_Podcast_209.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 9:53 PM

David couldn't make it this year, so Allison jumps in to take up the slack! In this live version of the podcast we discuss recent Supreme Court decisions, take a look at Satanism, and share some really (really, really) bad Biblical puns. The song at the top of the show is "Modest Proposal" by the legendary composer/performer Mose Allison. (Photo courtesy of Dan Barber.)

Thanks again to Derek Colundano for organizing the Skeptrack. And thanks to Mark Ditsler and Company of Abrupt Media for providing stellar audiovisual infrastructure.

Direct download: 208_American_Freethought_Podcast_208.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 3:08 PM

Ken Ham's Ark Encounter continues to grasp for Kentucky taxpayer dollars, despite being a religious operation that promises to discriminate in its hiring policies.

The Supreme Court has put marriage equality on hold in Virginia. Presumably they'll hear this and other cases in the fall, and with a little luck SCOTUS will rule on behalf of rights and freedom in the spring.

Plus:

Strap on the lightning rods--David goes to church!

We have feedback! Mostly good, but at least one listener thinks we waste too much time on personal, non-freethoughty stuff. And for those interested in our discussion last time on Secular and Humanist Celebrants, here are some more organizations that endorse nonreligious celebrants:

Announcements:

Check out American Freethought Live! 10PM, Friday, August 29th at DragonCon's SkepTrack. David can't make it this year, so Allison is stepping in for him. Excitement! For more visit SkepTrack.org.

Get a discount on your Atlanta Star Party tickets by using promo code AMERICANFREETHOUGHT. The annual Star Party is upon us--Thursday, August 28th at Emory University. For more visit AtlantaStarParty.com.

Direct download: 207_American_Freethought_Podcast_207.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 5:33 PM

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
Category:podcast -- posted at: 12:56 AM