http://www.alternet.org/story/143820/atheists%2C_it%27s_time_to_sta...

"Religious teachings promise us much — eternal life, spiritual salvation, moral direction, and a deeper understanding of reality. It all sounds good, but these teachings are also onerous in their demands. If they can't deliver on what they promise, it would be well to clear that up. Put bluntly, are the teachings of any religion actually true or not? Do they have any rational support? It's hard to see what questions could be more important. Surely the claims of religion — of all religions — merit scrutiny from every angle, whether historical, philosophical, scientific, or any other."

"There are harmful consequences to real people in the real world if the views of churches and sects are enshrined in law or given undue social deference - the acceptance even in liberal secular societies of conscientious objection as a legitimate reason for health care professionals and even civil servants to refuse to provide professional services to certain citizens is a case in point. For these reasons it is important that we should speak out and publicly contest the special authority that is accorded, all too often, to pontiffs, imams, priests, and presbyters. Religious leaders are not our moral leaders, much as they clamour to be, and however much the politicians flatter them. These spiritual emperors have no clothes, and we shouldn't flinch from saying so."

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