By George Kane
As was the case with the Cartoon Intifada in 2006, extremists are inciting street mobs to violence with cries of “Blasphemy!” to bring about a political crisis. This time the scene is Bangladesh, and the objects of religious fury are atheist bloggers who campaigned for secular government.
The background to the current uprising is the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The Pakistan Army and collaborators targeted Hindu communities, intellectuals and members of the political opposition for attacks. According to official estimates as many as 400,000 women were raped, leading to an estimated 25,000 war babies. As many as 3,000,000 people were massacred. An estimated 30,000,000 people were displaced, including 10,000,000 refugees who fled to India.
Read more: News and Notes: May 2013
By Scott Lohman
An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of his Philosophy: The Life of Dr. Charles Knowlton
by Dan Allosso, 270 pages, CreateSpace Independent Publishing
The history of Freethinking people is not always about the big characters of our movement. Most of what has happened was done by those of us who do boring jobs and are active in Freethought outside of any profession. Charles Knowlton was one of those. He was a medical doctor who helped move his profession away from treating the "four humors" as they were called.
Read more: Book Review: An Infidel Body Snatcher
Our speaker for the May meeting will be Dan Allosso. Dan is a freethought history writer who has recently come out with the book An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of His Philosophy. This book is the story of a freethinker. Charles Knowlton. Charles was an outsider for most of his life, swimming against the stream of religious and social conformity. This is a true story about why outsiders are important, and what they can achieve. It’s also an adventure story, full of conflict, drama, humor, and a little horror.
Read more: May Meeting: A Story about a Rebel
By Eric Jayne
Twenty-seven years after the last shot was fired in the Civil War, a socialist, Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance as a visionary celebration of a unified, undivided nation. Published in 1892, the Pledge first appeared in a popular children’s magazine entitled The Youth’s Companion. The publication’s purpose was to teach ethics and promote positive, active citizenship to children. As most atheists and other secularists are well aware, Bellamy made no mention of gods. His original words were: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic, for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It wasn’t until 1954—sixty-two years after Bellamy penned the Pledge—that Communist-fearing lawmakers literally divided Bellamy’s clause, “one nation indivisible” by wedging in “under God” at the behest of the Catholic Knights of Columbus organization. The idea was to showcase the United States as a pious nation in opposition to the godless Soviet Union.
Read more: President's Column: One Nation Indivisible
By George Kane
Republicans took a thumping in the November elections, but they behave as if voters gave them a mandate to advance conservative Christian goals. House Resolutions 940 and 973 would both create faith-exemptions to the requirement for contraceptive coverage in employee insurance plans. HR 940 would amend the Affordable Care Act, so-called “Obamacare,” while HR 973 exempts from any fine, excise tax or suit for failure to provide any coverage to which the employer objects based on religious belief or moral conviction. Both bills were referred to three committees for review. Also, HR 23 presents a direct assault on reproductive rights. It declares that human life begins with fertilization, conferring to the zygote the obligatory protection of government.
Read more: News and Notes