The Long Fight for the Freedom to Blaspheme Has Lessons for Today
Blasphemy is the act of profaning the sacred. It is a crime as ancient as civilization itself. The gods apparently have always needed the protection of law to remain free from offense. I guess that makes them the beneficiaries of the first “safe spaces.” These days, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) fights blasphemy laws primarily …
Here is one of organized humanism’s most persistent puzzles: In an America where the number who live without religion has snowballed, why hasn’t the membership of national “movement” groups—atheist, agnostic, freethought, and secular humanist—kept pace? I’ve been covering the “Rise of the Nones” since 1990, when Barry Kosmin (now a Center for Inquiry [CFI] board …
Resurrecting Matilda Joslyn Gage: “The Woman Who Was Ahead of the Women Who Were Ahead of Their Time”
That pithy subtitle comes from the website of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation (matildajoslyngage.org). It’s too good not to share. If Robert Green Ingersoll is the most remarkable American most people never heard of, Matilda Joslyn Gage is his female equivalent. Had you asked me just two years ago for a recitation of the most …
The Signature of Freedom
The cover article of Free Inquiry’s previous issue (“By My Own Hand: Suicide Can Be a Wise and Gentle Choice,” by Lowrey R. Brown) was expected to generate more controversy than it did. Consider the timing: Though the decision to publish Brown’s essay in the August/September 2018 issue was made months in advance, “By My …
Things Are Going to Start Happening to Us Now
There is a Congressional Fragrance Caucus. And a Congressional Fertilizer Caucus. (Do you think one was in response to the other?) There is a Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus. (Get taken much?) There is even a Congressional Civility Caucus, which is not to be confused with either the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus or the Congressional …
Freethought’s History Mustn’t Be Forgotten
Radical-reform history is obscure largely because religious conservatives want it that way.
Women Should Be Mad at Religion Not (Just) Trump
Trump is not feminism’s real enemy: that would be the misogyny at Christianity’s core.
Free Speech and Identity Politics
“The paradox of identity liberalism is that it paralyzes the capacity to think and act in a way that would actually accomplish the things it professes to want.”
All Things Bold and Blasphemous
Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD)! Secular humanists and other free-speech stalwarts celebrate IBRD each September 30. For more on the observance, see my Introduction to this issue’s cover feature, “Art, Blasphemy, and Humanism”.
Religion Is An Empirical Question –– Finally
Karl Marx never wrote the phrase “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” He wrote, “[Religion] is the opium of the people.” Close enough. Marx saw religion as a fantasy that allowed people to balm their degraded lives.
“Yuval Noah Harari … has presented an extreme and factually untethered critique of humanism.”
Join Our Tribe
“If organized, we could have a major influence on public policy (and not just among Democrats). Now, we are ignored.”
For Seculars, Challenges Ahead
“Trump has been the ‘box of chocolates’ president-elect: you never know what you’re going to get.”
Obama’s One Big Disappointment: Church-State Separation
Obama went back on a campaign promise to reform how billions of dollars in federal grants to faith-based organizations would e administered.
The Great Agnostic Would Be Proud
The memory of Robert Green Ingersoll is being preserved on many fronts.
Is My Intolerance of Your Intolerance Intolerant?
“Bizarrely, a subset of progressives has bought into the idea that any criticism of the tenets of Islam is an attack on Muslim people.”
Maybe It’s the Cabin Pressure
Why what the pope says in airplanes may not matter—and why our efforts to stem climate disaster may not either.
Openly Secular Is Our Secret Sauce
Gays and lesbians changed their social position by coming out; we unbelievers can accomplish the same by coming forward.
China’s One-Child Policy: A Requiem
Even China was unprepared to do what will be necessary to not just stop population growth but to reduce human numbers to a sustainable level.
Humanism: Creating Hope
Though religions claim a monopoly on hope, the brightest hope for humanity’s future lies in humanism.
If This Be Blasphemy, Let Us Make the Most of It
The arguments favoring the right to blaspheme have changed little in nine years. But they’re still right.
Good Without God—But Better Without God?
We can make the world a better place, but whether we do so depends on us—that’s both the promise and the challenge of humanism.
Overpopulation, Immigration, and the Human Future
Today’s myriad ecological crises can never be solved without a major commitment not just to control but to reduce human numbers.
The Crucial Connection between Skepticism and Secular Humanism
Sound science and secularism are firm allies; that’s why the recent merger into CFI Inc. is not only wise but necessary.
Secularism Humanism: Not a Religion
Conceding from its opening move that humanism is a religion, the American Humanist Association damaged the movement while defending one prisoner’s rights.
Religious Morality: Pointless, Worthless, and Utterly Subjective
Appeals to God cannot settle ethical dilemmas. God can’t tell us what to do; we need to figure that out for ourselves.
Winning future church-state lawsuits may require us to step away from the familiar arena of “religious freedom” and into the more inclusive arena of freedom of conscience.
The Supreme Court Sounds a Wake-up Call
A flawed Supreme Court decision should dispel any illusion that America is quickly becoming more accepting of the nonreligious.
Secularism and Secular Humanism
“Among today’s students, what does it mean to be secular—in other words, how do they understand that term?”
To What Extent Should We Accommodate Religious Beliefs?
The Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases may prompt the Supreme Court to overextend the religious-liberty rights of corporate employers.
How Small Our Wants
Let’s look back at The Nine Demands of Liberalism and reflect on the differences between what freethinkers wanted circa 1870 and what many in our movement want today.
Faith: The Humanist Perspective
Although faith cannot be rationally justified, this doesn’t prevent theologians from trying their best to make faith seem not only reasonable but a good thing.
The Left Is Not Always Right
Sidney Hook was among the earliest American intellectuals to break with Marxism. That’s saying a lot: Marxist revolutionary thought held enormous sway over American intellectuals during much of the twentieth century.
The Looming Supreme Court Showdowns
The 2013–2014 term of the U.S. Supreme Court could be its most important in years with respect to church-state issues. We already know that the court will hear a case involving the constitutionality of invocations in local government settings such as city hall or county board meetings: Town of Greece v. Galloway (No. 12-696). By …
Is Religion Dying?
In case you missed it, Roman Catholics have a new pope. Pope Benedict XVI resigned, which no pope has done in almost six hundred years, and the College of Cardinals met in conclave and elected Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who chose the name Pope Francis. But of course, you didn’t miss it. No one …
Note from the Editor
Some Free Inquiry readers may find the articles in this special section controversial. Most of these articles share the view that the best solution to tensions posed by a growing nontheistic/nonreligious contingent within a U.S. military steeped in “Christian nation” ideology is to expand the scope of military chaplaincy to encompass nontheistic/nonreligious service members. Some …
The Argument from Death and Meaninglessness—Again
Without God, our lives have no meaning. The faithful can take comfort in eternal life, in knowing that they and their loved ones will survive death. The atheist can have no hope, no solace, because for the atheist only the grave awaits. How often have we heard these claims? Too often, but recently we’ve been …
When ‘Current Law’ Is Not Enough
I may be reading too much into the November 2012 elections, but they seem to have genuinely altered the drift of American political discourse. Minority groups from Hispanics to the nonreligious played central roles in the reelection of President Barack Obama and in numerous congressional, state, and even local races. (Obama arguably owes his election …
Free Expression and Women’s Rights
This issue of Free Inquiry highlights two very important concerns: namely, the need to ensure that people throughout the world can freely express their views about religion and the need to promote women’s rights and end sexism, both outside of and within the secular movement. Some might think these concerns are unconnected. They would be …
Hell Freezes Over! / Minding the Lines
If there was a hell, it would be garlanded with icicles. According to recent survey data, two longtime dreams of American secularists have come true: Charitable giving by Americans to churches and religious organizations actually declined in 2011. What’s more, it fell in three of the last four years. For the first time in fifty-four …