May meeting tomorrow
The Corvallis Secular Society May 2013 meeting is tomorrow, Saturday the 18th. It will be from 2 to 4 pm at Corl House.
The articles linked to below may be of interest, and may provide topics for discussion.
The proper focus of secularism
Handling those who mishandle Freedom From Religion Foundation challenges
The full weight of the law and legal precedent falls on the side of secularism…. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the American Constitution has been clearly interpreted for decades to mean that it is unfairly exclusionary and thus illegal for public schools, county or city councils, school boards, etc., to open their meetings with a sectarian prayer of any sect or creed. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has been consistently interpreted, with numerous examples of precedent, to be the legal backbone of this issue, and this is where we’ll find the correct argument to make.
Academic freedom versus keeping the focus of a science class on science
Ball State University has agreed to investigate complaints that a course taught by a physics and astronomy professor has crossed a line from being about science to being about Christianity.
Reason Is Better than Prayer (for Government)
By Roy Speckhardt; Executive Director, American Humanist Association
Every year on the first Thursday of May a peculiar thing happens: the president and government officials across the nation ask us to pray. Not only do they ask us to pray, they inform us of the value of prayer and how, according to President Obama’s 2012 National Day of Prayer Proclamation, prayer has “always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength.” Of course, it’s not exactly “countless” since we can count millions of Americans that don’t believe in the efficacy of prayer.
Atheists: Let your conscience be your god
By Herb Silverman, Published: May 7, 2013 at 11:55 am
Recently I was invited to participate in a Religion and Law Conference at Florida State University. Almost all the other speakers and attendees were legal or religion scholars, from disciplines in which I’ve had no formal training.
Almost all attendees were religious liberals, whose conference papers I’d roughly place in three categories: (1) objection to favoring mainstream religions over minority religions; (2) approval of selected government support for religion; (3) disputes over what legally constitutes a religion. I agreed with all the cases presented in (1) and disagreed with all the cases presented in (2). My position was that government should never favor one religion over another or religion over non-religion.
The most interesting discussion for me was about (3), disputes over what legally constitutes religion, because I found all the attempts to define religion problematic. One speaker defined religion as “a sincerely held non-rational (i.e., faith based) belief concerning the nature of the universe.” Why, I asked, should our government privilege irrational beliefs over rational beliefs?