It appears to me that our non-religious organizations are sort of spinning their wheels on this important issue of separation of church and state (one of the highest priorities for many of such organizations), precisely because a significant majority of our citizens still cling to their ancient religious beliefs. Thus, it would seem to be important to use some of our resources to more directly confront the lack of credible evidence in support of such beliefs. The attached article is offered as a discussion point. Appreciate your feedback.

John

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Comment by John Cones yesterday

Oh, I absolutely agree Loren that litigation is necessary, but precisely because the evangelical supported Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have pushed through so many conservative judges, some of whom are not qualified, the litigation option is likely to be less productive in the future (i.e., because so many of the judges are biased). Thus, it appears to me that we should seek to convince the religious believers themselves that their leaders have misled them, that they have failed in the past 3 to 5 thousand years to provide any credible evidence to support their core beliefs, and that "trust me" is simply not a concept around which one should orient one's life, particularly when it's being offered by someone who is also asking you for money. 

Comment by Loren Miller on Friday

That doesn't change the fact that litigation – challenging Christian privilege the assumptions that go along with it – is absolutely necessary.  This is especially true with Trump in the front seat and with the Senate appointing right-wing, frequently unqualified judges to lifetime positions.  Again, I have to cite FFRF, Americans United, and American Atheists, in addition to other secular-oriented organizations, for their tireless work in this regard.  And don't mistake for one instant that we are effective in the courtroom.  The victories achieved by FFRF have been both considerable and influential in shaping legal thought about secular issues and moving the Overton Window in a more liberal and egalitarian direction. 

Certainly, we also need to make strides at the ballot box, and I can't help but notice that there are self-declared humanists and agnostics and even atheists succeeding on the local level now.  Eventually, that will progress to the state and federal levels, IF we maintain consistency.  This isn't a situation where one focus on one venue is going to get the job done, nor should it be.  Secularism is a movement which can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Comment by John Cones on Friday

The intent of my posts both here and at Reddit Atheist Forum was to suggest that instead of placing our organizational emphasis on separation of church and state in a so-called democracy where the majority is still religious (including members of the Supreme Court), instead we should focus more of our time, energy and resources on reducing that majority to a minority. That effort seems to me to be more of a massive public relations campaign as opposed to the expensive litigation we currently support. Litigation in the current environment is like going to battle with one hand tied behind your back, since most of the people in a position to decide are already biased against us.   

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on Friday

There's no wall left. Taxpayer money will now support religious indoctrination in schools, thanks to the Supreme Court. Also, plenty of money for pandemic relief went to religious nonprofits, but none to secular nonprofits.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on Thursday

Was not aware of Reddit atheist forum. But online chat is analogous to being in a car...people so freely give ya the finger...it is the anonymity or the sense of being in a castle free of repercussions.

Comment by John Cones on Thursday

I must say that it was very nice of Frankie Dapper and Loren Miller to provide their thoughtful responses to my short post and brief article. I posted something similar over at the Reddit Atheist Forum and got about 8 negative responses, very unwelcoming -- all from anonymous posters. Has anyone else had a similar experience just trying to participate in online discussions at Reddit Atheist Forum? It seems to me that we should all try very hard to be welcoming and to work together toward our common goal of diminishing the influence of  baseless religions in our lives.  Thanks, John Cones

Comment by Frankie Dapper on June 28, 2020 at 8:43pm

How about naive and impressionable. To arrogate the early formation of more cultured and reason-based thinking is a crime against humanity. 

Comment by Frankie Dapper on June 28, 2020 at 8:39pm

I suspect the development of language and of early religion is deeper than explored. 

Otherwise it is fine. And the closing line is powerful. Religion is really an illegitimate assertion of authority over the lives of naive human beings...

That is how to shoot em in the nuts and kick em up the ass with a dollop of reality. 

Comment by Loren Miller on June 28, 2020 at 9:04am

If the wheels are spinning, it is too often because there are those in the US government who are bound and determined to breach the wall between State and Church which the founders so very purposefully placed there.  Whether by ignorant action or purposeful intent, they have decided to allow the camel's nose of religion into our government's tent, and I wonder if they fully understand the implications of what might happen when said camel fully occupies that tent.  This is why organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation (of which I am a member), Americans United, and American Atheists exist: to draw a line against the encroachment of religion and oppose any action which threatens that wall.  In addition, there is now the Congressional Freethought Caucus, which is providing a further guard against religiously problematic legislation.

Dealing with the indoctrination of individuals which perpetuates religion is a far more difficult and convoluted task, which has been addressed by people like Peter Boghossian and Anthony Magnabosco and their "Street Epistemology" approach.  The problem of course is that religion has enormous social inertia associated with it, and overcoming that inertia will be exceptionally difficult.  That task is made even more daunting with Donald Trump in the White House, since he seems to be happy to give the Religious Reich anything and everything they want in return for their votes.

Yet slowly but surely, the tide is turning in our direction.  The number of of the "nones – non-religiously-affiliated citizens – is currently roughly equivalent to the count of either Catholics or evangelicals, and their numbers are dwindling as ours continue to grow.  Millennials and GenZers are far more likely to have shed religion than their parents, and that added to the influence of the internet is wearing hard at religion's credibility and sustainability.

It will be a long, hard slog, and indeed, the struggle may never have a conclusion, but it is joined, and I for one still think we're on the side that's going to win.

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