By George Kane
The Supreme Court opened the new year by issuing a landmark ruling on the separation of Church and State. In a unanimous ruling in the case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, SCOTUS found for the first time that the Constitution requires a “ministerial exception” that protects the personnel decisions of churches and their schools from interference from the government and its courts.
The case began in 2004 when Cheryl Perich took a medical leave from her position as a teacher at the Hosanna Tabor Lutheran School for a chronic illness. When her leave was over the school did not allow her to return to work, so Perich claimed a violation of her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission affirmed Perich’s claim, so the church sued. After the school lost in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.Add a comment
“Whenever the people are well informed,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “they can be trusted with their own government.”
With this quote, Shawn Lawrence Otto, author of the newly published book "Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America," opened his talk before the Minnesota Atheists gathered at the Southdale Library on January 15th. Shawn's talk was a rousing and inspiring critical look at the large and growing gap between science knowledge and public policy, which is very alarming given that most of the major problems facing this country at the national level are science related. Stating that science is never partisan, but that scientific findings always have political consequences, he noted that science is also anti-authoritarian and in this way, ironically, resembles the early days of European Protestantism.
When John Kennedy ran for president, Shawn noted, he was obliged to state that his Catholicism would not be interjected into his governing. Today, many politicians seem obliged to not only promise to interject their religious beliefs into their work as elected officials, but often do so as an explicit contrast to science, and even go farther to make strong and noxious anti-science statements.Add a comment
Several years ago, three same-sex couples, collectively known as the organization “Marry Me Minnesota,” went to court in Hennepin County to apply for marriage licenses. They were refused.
They then went to Minnesota District Trial Court, suing for the right for same-sex couples to get married in Minnesota and for their own marriages, which had been legally obtained outside of Minnesota (in Vermont, Iowa, and Canada), to be recognized as valid in our state. They lost their case.
Then they went to the Minnesota Appeals Court last year. It was at this point that Minnesota Atheists, which had been following the case, stepped in, becoming the only organization to file a friend-of-the-court brief on their behalf.
The Appeals Court handed down its decision on January 23, 2012. Below, items in quotes are excerpts from that decision. My opinions are in brackets and italics and have my initials.
In short, the Appeals Court ruled that it was proper to sue Hennepin County but not the State of Minnesota, though the appellants should have also sued the Attorney General; the appellants’ freedom of religion was not violated; but the rest of the case will be sent back to the District Trial Court to be re-judged using different standards.Add a comment
Anti-science and creationist rhetoric, coming from organizations like the Discovery Institute, often paints Darwin as handmaiden to the Nazis and founder of racist biology. The eugenics movement of the early twentieth century is uncritically melded with Darwin’s writings that touched on race, and the genetic determinism of certain aspects of modern biology is uncritically melded with Darwinian theories.
In this talk, Greg Laden will address Darwin’s racism (or lack thereof) and explore the relationship between concepts of race and racism and evolutionary biology of Darwin’s day as well as that of the twenty-first century.
Darwin was a nineteenth century gentlemen who benefited greatly from his position in a world colonial empire, but it was his exploration of that world that led him away from religious dogma and soured him on certain racist concepts. He was the founder of much of the theory that was later to be used in rather nefarious ways, but those uses were never based on good biology. This talk will directly address the relationship between modern biology and modern race theory.
Greg writes and teaches about anthropology, race and racism, the biology of gender, evolution, human evolution, nature, birds, and open source operating systems. He is an active member of the skeptics community and an unabashed progressive liberal. He often interviews guests for Minnesota Atheists’ Atheists Talk radio program.Add a comment
What do Billy Graham, Charles Darwin, Paul the Apostle, Mother Theresa, Richard Dawkins, and YOU have in common? They, you, and everyone were all born without beliefs in any god (Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Gilgamesh, Zeus, Poseidon, Odin, Baal, Thor, Anu, etc.). Of course we are all born without knowing a whole lot of things like who has been president, how to do math, speak a language, and grasp science, but unlike these useful fields of study that help us understand and navigate through our shared corporeal experience, myth-based beliefs are learned strictly by insulated indoctrination.
Many of us have been indoctrinated as young children into believing a variety of god-myths via religious institutions. Our parents and/or other family members may have taken us to Sunday school and church every Sunday. Perhaps you attended a synagogue, mosque, or temple of some sort. Some of us were required to attend summer Bible school, Bible camp, religious youth groups, ministry programs like AWANAS, or confirmation classes. Whatever our indoctrinated experiences may have been, the good news is we are all capable of being de-programmed from the mind manipulating instructions that were forced upon us as young, impressionable children. We can all become “born-again” atheists!Add a comment