DJ Grothe (left) shares a studio with
Of course, we disagree about the definition of the word religion—I hold the consensus definition of scholars in the field of religion; Noebel holds a definition that's decades old, dismissed in the academy because it is too broad. But we do agree that secular humanism has had its effects on society, notably in the classroom. Noebel is right when he says that secular humanism is the dominant intellectual and cultural worldview of the modern world. Conservative intellectual Michael Novak has even equated secular humanism with the whole project of modernity.1 I agree with them when they argue that the secular revolution of modernity attempted to wrest control of the institutions of society away from church domination—and largely succeeded in doing so.
But Noebel and other powerful religious-political extremists seek to mobilize their followers to "take back America from the secular humanists." In language reminiscent of Usama bin Laden, these Christian activists call for "Christian foot-soldiers" to be prepared to "fight with blood, sweat, and tears" in the "battle for the heart and soul of America."2 Faced with this kind of religious-political activism, secular humanists must respond. Secularists and humanists need to work together to defend and promote free inquiry, secular values, and the good life. We must stand up against the assault on our freedoms posed by these evangelical Christian activists. Therefore, the editors of Free Inquiry are devoting this space to share news of the Council, our outreach and educational activities, and to highlight events of the organizations allied with us across the country.
June 22: Secular, humanist and freethought organizations in the
Pacific Northwest present the Fifth Annual Oregon Secular Symposium. Sponsors
include the Corvallis Secular Society, Humanist Association of Salem, Humanists
of Greater Portland, Humanists of North Puget Sound, and the United States
Atheists, among other secular and humanist societies in the region. Featured
speakers are Frank Zindler of American Atheists and Margaret Downey, founder of
the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia. In addition, there will also be
discussions and workshops. Members of the
Campus Freethought Alliance, and other secular, humanist and freethought groups in the Pacific Northwest are invited to attend. For information, visit www.css.peak.org/symposium/.
July 14-28: The Center for Inquiry Institute is dramatically consolidating and expanding its educational and campus outreach initiatives through the creation of a two-week summer school. For the first time, transferable undergraduate college credit will be available through the State University of New York. This is in keeping with the Council's tradition to hold an annual summer conference for students involved with the Campus Freethought Alliance. The Institute's summer school will establish a permanent, annual academic calendar for CFA members and grass-roots secular and humanist activists. Visit www.centerforinquiry.net or contact Austin Dacey, institute director, for information on scholarship opportunities or for an application: firstname.lastname@example.org, (716) 636-7571 ext. 223.
The Campus Crusade for Christ has an annual operating budget approaching $400 million for campus outreach and proselytizing. Other Christian campus groups have budgets of similar scope. With infinitely less money, the Council's Campus Freethought Alliance supports affiliates on over a hundred campuses around the world. To counter such hefty resources of the Religious Right, we invite you to share Free Inquiry with freethinking students today. Encourage them to join CFA by directing them to www.campusfreethought.org. Membership is free; benefits include admission to student conferences, a special Free Inquiry subscription rate, educational and promotional materials, and much more.
The Council is proud to be America's leading organization for ethical, nonreligious people. We look forward to working with you to advance our shared high ideals in your area.
1. Michael Novak, "The Most Religious Century." New York Times, May 24, 1998.
2. This claim comes from the Mind Siege training video, published by Word/Nelson Publishing. Thousands of copies of this tape have been distributed to churches across the country to "educate" and motivate "Christian foot soldiers."