Atheists Denounce Trump Administration’s New “Religious Freedom” Office and Dangerous New Rules Promoting Discrimination

Washington, DC—As part of its continued assault on LGBTQ people and women under the guise of “religious freedom,” the Trump administration has announced the creation of a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. The new division would be charged with shielding medical professionals who refuse to treat patients because of religious objections.

In addition, HHS is expected to announce a proposed rule change that would allow healthcare providers to discriminate against patients and deny treatment on the basis of religious objections.

The rule change would roll back Obama-era regulations that provided non-discrimination protections for individuals receiving healthcare services. Prior to these regulations, healthcare providers were able to use “conscience” exceptions to deny access to birth control, treatment for HIV and AIDS, and end-of-life care; discriminate against transgender patients and even deny emergency ambulance services to a woman seeking an abortion.

“The Trump administration seems to define religious freedom as the ability to freely discriminate against LGBTQ people and women,” said Alison Gill, legal and policy director for American Atheists. “I have no doubt that changing this rule will cost people their lives. Medical evidence, not religious dogma, should be deciding medical care.”

So-called “conscience” protections are the latest tactic being used by the Religious Right to undermine civil rights laws and equal protection. In a proclamation for National Religious Freedom Day, the Trump administration said that Americans could pick and choose which laws to follow on the basis of their religious beliefs, a sentiment echoed by Roger Severino, the director of HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, in a statement announcing the proposed changes.

“These changes fly in the face of established law and court precedent. This new office and the proposed rule don’t protect religious freedom. They merely elevate one particular set of religious views—namely that LGBTQ people are sinful and that abortion is immoral—above all others, and weaponize it against vulnerable people,” added Gill. “The Office for Civil Rights should try focusing on protecting civil rights instead of wasting time and money to undermine them.”

Severino, the chief architect of the proposed HHS rule, has previously worked to expand religious exemptions and undermine basic civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people.

Are we really in 2018?

Atheism leads to Collapse into Immorality & Lawlessness: Letter to Editor, New Zealand

Have faith
One has to wonder where Jim Adams (Letters, December 27) has been not to be aware of the tragic consequences of the adoption of atheism by societies and the attendant collapse into immorality and lawlessness.

It has to be admitted that atrocities have been committed in the past (and even today) in the name of some religions (even by so-called Christians) but the overall outcome has been positive for humanity – especially that of Christianity with its power to change lives for good.

Compare this with atheism which leads to disintegrating societies and the inevitable rise of totalitarian regimes such as those of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Ze Dong and Kim Jong-Un, and the death and suffering of hundreds of millions of people; not the idyllic picture Jim envisages.

We need to recognise that because of man’s fallen state atheistic, humanistic socialism can never be the answer; only a life-changing personal faith in Jesus Christ is.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith (in Jesus Christ) … not of works lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2:8-9.

DAVID PREEST
Rotorua

Letters to the Editor, New Zealand Herald, Rotorura Daily Post

Ordination & Holiday Ecards Courtesy Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: A Must Visit Website

Greetings from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

I hope everyone has had a wonderful year and is enjoying a festive Holiday season. This year has felt a bit dark — a little like truth, reason, and accountability have taken a beating — that satire has lost some of it’s power. When reality has become so absurd, how to point out its absurdity with exaggeration?

But I think we’re turning a corner, and I take comfort that the Pastafarian community has remained positive and stable. Another year with Pastafarians standing up for their rights and pushing back against discrimination. Another year of uplifting news stories, free of scandals. That makes me feel better.

What’s coming up for 2018? I’m thinking we should make an FSM book for kids. To indoctrinate the youth with religious propaganda, and so on. And also True Facts about pirates, not the revisionist history that public schools would have us believe. Just feels like maybe it’s time, what with facts having become so pliable, and with this atmosphere where the mixing of religion and education is not so objectionable – maybe it’s time we get into that as well. Just a thought. I’d enjoy brainstorming with the community.

I’m going to make an effort to communicate more often. If you get sick of it, please Opt Out with the link at the bottom of the page and I won’t bother you anymore.

I’ve got a few holiday gift ideas, below. We don’t really do merchandise anymore (though you can surely find knockoff shirts and things on the internet if you look.) The only thing we do now is the Ordinations, and I’d encourage everyone to become Ordinated, or to nominate a friend, if it feels right. Here we go:

• Nominate someone to the Ministry of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Do you know someone of impeccable character, ready to serve as a spiritual leader? This Holiday season why not surprise them with Ordination credentials?

FSM Ministers will receive Lithograph Paper Certificates and PVC Minister’s ID cards, and will be added to the official registry. They cost $25 or $40 including shipping anywhere in the world. You can order as a gift here. (Or for yourself here). I will send something you can present the nominee, before their credentials arrive in the mail. If they decide to not join the Ministry, you can re-nominate or get a refund.

• Send a Holiday e-Card to your friends and family

You can create a festive card with personalized message here. It takes only seconds and costs nothing. Below are a few of the designs. I will not smash any ads into your e-cards, nor will I read them.

 

• Give a gift card to Kiva and encourage your friends/family to join our Kiva Lending Team

Our Kiva Lending Team is near 5000 people strong, and has raised over $3.7 Million for the the poor. Please check out our team and join us.Our Kiva Lending Team

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: THE LAST INTERVIEW & OTHER CONVERSATIONS

“He’s one of the most terrifying rhetoricians that the world has yet seen.” —Martin Amis

“His unworldly fluency never deserted him, his commitment was passionate, and he never deserted his trade. He was the consummate writer, the brilliant friend. In Walter Pater’s famous phrase, he burned ‘with this hard gem-like flame.’ Right to the end.” —Ian McEwan

“He was an intellectual with the instincts of a street brawler, never happier than when engaged in moral or political fisticuffs.” —Salman Rushdie

“There was nothing that Hitch liked to do more than talk— and all the better if talking meant arguing.” —Anna Wintour

OPENLY SECULAR DAY IS OCTOBER 20

Secular people – including atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and nonreligious people – are everywhere. They are your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers – even your loved ones. But they often can’t be open about who they are.

Openly Secular is changing that. Toolkits, resources, and videos help break down barriers and help secular people live full, honest, and open lives. Tell Your Story. Speak Your Truth. Together we can eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance. https://openlysecular.org/

Openly Secular is a coalition of secular organizations led by the Center for Inquiry.

Killah Priest is Openly Secular! In this interview with Mandisa Thomas of Black Nonbelievers, Killah Priest (aka Walter Reed) talks about how he became secular, and how religion and the imagery of various religions throughout history have informed his art.

Penn Jillette and Teller are Openly Secular and think that becoming Openly Secular is getting much better and much easier.

Check out the free toolkits:

Toolkits and Resources

A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God: Documentary, Book, Podcast

The Documentary

There is no God. Now what? If this is the only life we have, how does that affect how we live our lives, how we treat each other, and cope with death.

In this fascinating documentary, join filmmaker Chris Johnson as he introduces us to people from all walks of life and backgrounds who challenge the false stereotypes of atheists as immoral and evil. From Daniel Dennett and A.C. Grayling, to Julia Sweeney and Robert Llewellyn —learn the various ways many atheists have left religion to a better life filled with love, compassion, hope, and wonder.

A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God

Director: Chris Johnson

Featuring: A.C. Grayling, Adam Pascal, AJ Johnson, Alex Honnold, Andrew Copson, Cara Santa Maria, Dan Barker, Daniel Dennett, Donald C. Johanson, Helena Guzik, Julia Sweeney, Matt Dillahunty, Nahla Mahmoud, Patricia S. Churchland, Robert Llewellyn, Sean Carroll, Tracie Harris.

https://www.theatheistbook.com/pages/about-us

Available Formats: Streaming rental, HD Download, DVD

 

Upcoming Screenings & Lectures through 2017

Thursday, November 2 Screening – Houston, TX (Rice University)

Thursday, November 9 Screening – Frostburg State University

Saturday, November 11 Lecture – New Haven, CT

Sunday, November 19 Screening – Jackson, MS

Friday, December 1 Screening – Ontinyent, Valencia, Spain

The book

Explore the meaning and joy of life with 100 atheists in this book of photos and commentary featuring Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Steven Pinker, Penn & Teller, Julia Sweeney, Alex Honnold, Derren Brown, and more!

The myth persists. Even in our modern world, countless people believe that without God, one’s life has no purpose or meaning — that the lives of atheists are devoid of joy and happiness because they are not religious.

Starting out as one of the highest-grossing publishing projects on Kickstarter, A Better Life highlights the various ways that those who are not religious find joy, meaning, and purpose in life. Photographer Chris Johnson spent two years traveling the world speaking with and photographing atheists from all walks of life to create this hardcover photography coffeetable book.

Subjects in the book include:

A.C. Grayling, Philosopher

Adam Pascal, Musician/Actor

Alex Honnold, Rock climber

Cara Santa Maria, Television personality

Carol Blue & (the late) Christopher Hitchens

Charles Strouse, Broadway composer

Daniel Dennett, Philosopher and cognitive scientist

Daniel Dennett

Derren Brown, British illusionist

Donald C. Johanson, Paleoanthropologist

James Randi, Magician

James Watson, Molecular biologist/co-discoverer of the structure of DNA

Janet Asimov, Psychiatrist/Author

Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of physics, author and broadcaster

Julia Sweeney, Actress, comedian & author

Julia Sweeney

Lawrence M. Krauss, Physicist

Michael Shermer, Founder/Publisher of Skeptic magazine

Patricia S. Churchland, Neurophilosopher

Penn & Teller, magicians

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Philosopher and novelist

Richard Dawkins, Evolutionary biologist, and author

Robert Llewellyn, Writer, TV presenter, actor

Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physicist

Steven Pinker, Cognitive scientist

Yau-Man Chan, Contestant; Survivor: Fiji

…and many, many more!

 

Release Date: January 1, 2014

Author: Chris Johnson

Publisher: Cosmic Teapot/Chris Johnson; First Edition (December 2013)

A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God

Podcast

https://www.theatheistbook.com/pages/podcast

In this new podcast, join Chris as he revisits with some of the people from the book and the film, as well as introduces you to people he’s met since doing the project that would have been great additions.

Sample podcast guests include:

Anthony Magnabosco

Lawrence Krauss

Matt Dillahunty

Mandisa Thomas

Dan Arel

Cara Santa Maria

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. He received his undergraduate degree in film production (along with a minor in religious studies) from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. His photography has been seen in various outlets, including The New York Times. He is the author of the coffee table photography book, A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God as well as the documentary film version, A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God. He has travelled the world on a screening/lecture tour about A Better Life, speaking and screening the film in over 60 cities on four continents — from Reykjavik to Shanghai.

For the book and film of A Better Life, he interviewed many prominent atheist figures such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Dan Dennett, Derren Brown, Pat Churchland, Julia Sweeney, Penn & Teller, and many more. He has given talks on atheism and his work at conferences, universities, non-profit organizations, and community groups. In addition, he has also been a guest on numerous podcasts and TV shows around the globe.

https://www.theatheistbook.com/

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey reveals highest ever proportion of non-religious

Figures from the annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, run by ScotCen social researchers, have shown the highest ever proportion of non-religious people.

The new findings from Scotland’s most authoritative survey of public attitudes show that nearly six in ten (58%) now say that they have no religion, up 18 points on 1999 when the figure stood at four in ten (40%).

Young people are least likely to be religious; three quarters of young people (74% of 18-34s) say they have no religion compared with 34% of those over 65.

Commenting on the new figures, Gordon MacRae, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland said:

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

“This change is part of a long term trend that has seen more and more people in Scotland live happy and fulfilled lives without a religious belief.

“Humanist weddings for example are now more numerous in Scotland than any religious service.

“Today’s figures help support Humanist Society Scotland’s long held view that we should end privileges that some faith groups unfairly enjoy. A modern Scotland should ensure individuals of all faiths and none are equally respected.”

Exodus: Coming Out Atheist in the African American Community

While Exodus is a film still in its funding stage, this promising project hopes to become a feature-length documentary about the growing number of African-Americans leaving religion and the prejudice and social problems they face as part of the most religious demographic in America.

Many people are surprised to learn that there are Black non-believers and while the numbers identifying as atheists are small, only 1 or 2 percent by the lowest estimates, the proportion of African-Americans who are not affiliated with a particular religion is about the same as it is for the general population of the United States, amounting to several million.

For Americans who are only slightly aware of the growing trend of African-Americans leaving religion the question is: who are the Black non-believers and where are they?

This important film will challenge stereotypes, promote dialogue, and provide a true insight into the lives of Black non-believers. Yet Black non-believers remain practically invisible in their communities and may be the most closeted group in America.

Project narrative

The church is a focal point of the African American community but many former adherents are declaring themselves non-believers and leaving the faith of their ancestors. They identify themselves as nonreligious, non-believers, Humanist, agnostic, or atheist but they all disassociate with the religion that is the focal point of their communities.

In this film, African American non-believers will tell us in interviews and conversation what caused them to leave the church, the social and personal problems that resulted, the ways their lives have been changed, and why identification as a non-believer is important to them. Pastors and theologians commenting on this trend provide a counterpoint revealing how the African American church and community are responding to this growing exodus.

The “sizzle reel” for Exodus features Alix Jules, Bridgett Bria Crutchfield and Pastor Lorenzo Neal.

 

Alix Jules

Alix Jules: Jules is a secular activist in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area commonly involved in issues and topics regarding the role of diversity in the atheist community as well as atheism in diverse communities. He’s the chair of the Dallas/Fort Worth Coalition of Reason’s Diversity Council, Organizer for Black Nonbelievers of Dallas, and is a founding member of the largest family-based secular humanist organization in Texas, the Fellowship of Freethought. Jules is a regular co-host on Dogma Debate.

Bridgett Bria Crutchfield

Bridgett Bria Crutchfield: Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bridgett (known as ‘Bria’) was raised, baptized and dis-fellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witness faith. She segued to Pentecostal Christianity and assumed leadership roles as Prophetess, Intercessory Prayer Warrior and Evangelist. After careful consideration, Bria realized she was an Atheist. In 2011, she Founded Minority Atheists of MI, and founded the Detroit affiliate of Black Nonbelievers in 2013.

 

Pastor Lorenzo Neal

Pastor Lorenzo Neal:  Neal is pastor of the New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jackson, MS. He is also a licensed pastoral counselor and writes about Black Evangelical Christian issues and socio-political issues.

The Filmmakers

Producer/Director David Person is an accomplished professional journalist and consultant with more than 25 years of experience as a broadcaster, producer, and reporter. David Person has hosted and produced two nationally distributed public radio documentaries: Uncommon Courage: The Viola Liuzzo Story and The Afro: Personal Reflections. In addition, he has done feature reporting for National Public Radio. His most recent documentary project is The Biblical Prophets of the Qu’ran, an examination of the commonalities of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Executive Producer Charles R. “Chuck” Miller  is a secular activist and consultant. He was a founding director of the Secular Coalition for Alabama and served as that organization’s Executive Director. He is American Atheists Regional Director and a Life Member of that organization. His writing has appeared in American Atheist Magazine.

Advisory Board

Dr. Dedrick Blue is Dean of the Department of Religion and Theology of Oakwood University. He also serves as a board member at that institution and was Senior Pastor of the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in New York, NY.

Mandisa Lateefah Thomas is the co-founder and current President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. a national social and activist organization founded in 2011.

Mandisa Thomas
How to support the film

Filmmakers are actively seeking financial support to fully examine this trend through a combination of crowdfunding, grant writing, and foundation support.

Follow @ExodusTheDoc on Twitter and retweet to your followers.

Like the Facebook page and share it with others.  https://www.facebook.com/Exodus-the-Documentary-1618252915132943/

Contributions can be made by sending funds via PayPal.me/Exodoc.

Underwriters should contact the producers by email at exodusproducers@gmail.com or DM @ExodusTheDoc on Twitter.

Donors who provide $1,000 or more will receive recognition in the credits and institutions making larger grants will be recognized in the opening credits.

Currently, the North Alabama Freethought Association is acting as fiscal sponsor.

Links to Media

“Exodus” Sizzle Reel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jej6u9QCCOw

“Uncommon Courage: The Viola Liuzzo Story” https://beta.prx.org/stories/3383

“The Afro: Personal Reflections” https://beta.prx.org/stories/8759

5000-plus Worldwide Want this Ad Banned; Religious Insensitivity Cited

Petition description launched on Change.org:

This latest ad of Meat & Livestock Australia in the “You’ll Never Lamb Alone” series, it is very insensitive, irresponsible and total nonsense.

Not only it is defaming the religion, it is also highly inappropriate for, Hindu’s, Muslim’s and Buddhist’s as well. So to say all the religions.

Soon this 30-second ad, will be a part of a broader marketing strategy that will also include in-store promotions, billboards and social media posts.

This should be stopped immediately, it can not be accepted whatsoever. We urge to the PM of Australia to please look into this matter at the earliest before it catches eye of foreign media and embrace the racist image of the country world wide.

Here are a few of the comments left at the petition site Change.org in the past week (no corrections have been made for spelling or punctuation):

OMG! How can they make this ad it’s so high highly offensive to Hindu beliefs please stop this ad immediately! lord Ganesh is sacred & we worship him without meat!.Its like tabu to some Hindu’s Please be respectful to what others believe in or worship it’s sac religious  ❤JAI SRI GANESH ❤

Disgusting and racist act to show Indian god (Ganesha) having a drink and eat meat. This is a communal attack by few individuals which needs to be ceased immediately.

Very insensitive towards worlds ancient religions. Heads of these organisations should be held responsible and severely punished

Promoting the slaughter of any baby animal is disgusting. I don’t like any marketing of this nature but this

Anything in the public domain must take people’s sensitivities into account . This ad is very hurtful to my Hindu sentiments

This advertisement demonstrates a complete lack of cultural sensitivity and should be banned immediately.

All Indian Gods are vegitarian and showibg them eating meat is pure ignorance and insulting.

There wasnt any mohhamed in the Gods which also shouts partiality

This is against Hindu religion ideolgy

Its an insult to GODS OF HINDU by an Australian Company – Disgusting – Shame for Us we all Australians who are known for Non-Discriminating and Equal Opportunities among all who reside in Australia

It’s defaming. Why bring Gods image in ad.

I believe that Hinduism and Hindu Gods are being targeted by negative forces who are afraid that Hindustan might take over the world one day.

This is a very muted response. This only asks to stop this from going ahead any further. There is not even an apology demanded for the damage already done and emotions hurt.

Incorrect to have shows on different cultures with zero understanding.

This ad is offensive not just to Hindus but every religion. This has no place in civil society.

I believe in respecting the sentiments of people belonging to other religions and expect the same from them for my religion.

these rascals should be booked

I’m signing because it is offensive to make fun of any religion

This is totally unacceptable. Straight attack on a religious belief. Those who created this add are not suitable for their role

Never defame religions in your ads .

Its hurts.

This advertisement doesn’t have any meaning.

The did not get permission from other religions.

The bad thing is hurting the religious people who believe in God…

Not only it is defaming the religion, it is also highly inappropriate for, Hindu’s, Muslim’s and Buddhist’s as well. So to say all the religions

Those responsible should be awarded capital punishment.

It is highly inappropriate . It is against my religion & religious views. It depicts my deities in inappropriate way

Hindus should take a stand against the religious intolerance ad designed to mock u

I abhor this ad and this is racist too.

Don’t make fun of our gods

Violating and provoking the religious beliefs and culture.

Australia has developed into a wonderful country integrating people from so many countries, all living peacefully together

It is a pity when advertising can upset people’s beliefs, this should NOT be encouraged.

It is highly humiliating 

Insensitive and Condemnable

Lord Ganesha flanked by an alien and Jesus.

This pure insult to Hindus , why not have the porpht of ismile not included … afraid of Peacefool ?

Its against my Sanatan Dharma ,value system ,strictly objectionable n I condemn this ad

Shamefull ac. Request pm australia to take strict action against these people and the organisation

Because it is ridiculous. Get some knowledge of Santana dharma before doing such a sin….

This advert offends all Hindus by depicting one of our demigods eating meat which is completely against Hindu beliefs.

It is offensive and denies my rights to worship whomever I want

stop making fun of our god’s . And beg Lord Ganesha for pardon.

It is hurting the religious belief and values of over a billion Hindus as Lord/God Ganesha like all other Hindu Gods are considered pious and it is derogatory to associate him promoting lamb

Total shit!!! It needs to be stopped at any cost and the concerned people should apologise unconditionally for this.

Why you people don’t have respect of Hindu Gods…You are a demon.

stop using hindu gods to make marketing stunts,

Not appropriate to belief of millions of people.

Please don’t heart other religions aethist

This is ridiculous. The actor must have been in dire need of money to have even agreed to play the part.

Absolutely digusting!

It’s should been an Ad for good. Please do not hurt feelings of Hindus we believe in God.

I think seriously hurts Hindus.

This is offensive on so many levels. The terrible terrible terrible acting and rediculous script should be mentioned. In this time if global sensitivity it misses the mark and feels like a deliberate stunt to gain publicity.

This is unacceptable and disgraceful. Whoever had made this rubbish obviously has no sense of how to assimilate. There is more to inclusion other than just sharing a meal.

Hindus have always been submissive and social and hurting feelings with videos like this can cause a stir  Kindly delete this video ! Would be obliged!!

The ad is offensive to many religious group

Do not use Hindu Gods to promote meat eating. This is downright offensive to the Hindu community.

I’m signing because firstly it is a big infringement of our religion and secondly, your making it look as if lord Ganesh is a novelty character

Hindus have great respect for Lord Ganesha and it is selfish to show it into a character form for advertising and humiliating . Very cheap media

Respect Every religion

Grossly insensitive to the religious sentiments of many people. Religious dieties, prophets, acclaimed messiah like figures should not be used as cheap advertising subject material.

This is extremely disrespectful and a clear violation of another person beliefs and respect.

Offensive at every level.

I strongly condem the act of this advert as it only has this hurt the Hindu community, but also because the advert has not understood the culture of Hinduism having to have Lord Ganesh. Not only will you receive more petitions but this will become a disgrace to your company and agenda for future !

It’s hateful. Against the Hindu religion

Depicting Lord Ganesha in meat eating environment is gross insult to Hiduism. It is a cheap way of advertising and insulting in my opinion.

This is termedousely disrespectful and a clear violation of another person beliefs and respect.

I’m signing because it’s against my relegion and my culture. It hurts the sentiment of Indian people. Ban it or else livestock will never be peace full In India.

This is totally disrespectful to Hindu God Ganesh and Hinduism as a whole. No Hindu sect allows consumption of Meat! This ad should be banned immediately…

It’s not acceptable to make fun of someone’s religious faith

This petition will be delivered to:

  • CEO – Advertising Standards Bureau
    Fiona Jolly
  • Premier of Victoria
    Daniel Andrews
  • Prime Minister of Australia
    Malcolm Turnbull