“What an amazing night.”The positive online comments keep pouring in!
There were several people in Lincoln today meeting about trying to organise a state chapter of the SCA in Nebraska.Organising people over in Omaha and Lincoln (the state capital) is not too hard, the…Continue
This organization is a very serious threat to a "Secular Nation." These people are using our tax dollars to go into school buildings after hours and teach this garbage to our children! I'm sure…Continue
I live in Southern, Ohio and the Bible-Belt runs strong through the hills in our community. I frequent many city council meetings because of the corruption that has been within our tiny city for…Continue
There’s a major problem in any survey of Jews: deciding who is really Jewish, and who gets to decide. Orthodox Jews demand that the mother be Jewish, while more liberal Jewish groups are willing to accept those with a Gentile mother if the father is Jewish.
Jews stopped the practice of converting Gentiles in the fourth century C.E. for a very persuasive reason. At that time, the Roman Empire, having adopted Christianity as the state religion, made conversion to Judaism a criminal offense punishable by death of both the proselytizing Jews and their converts. Such conversions are no longer crimes, but Orthodox Rabbis discourage conversion and many reject would-be converts three times; if they remain adamant in their desire to convert, they are then allowed to begin the conversion process. Different branches of Judaism are more welcoming to those who wish to become Jews, but Orthodox Jews don’t recognize converts to Judaism by other branches.
And then there are Jews with adjectives. I know some Unitarian Jews, Buddhist Jews, and Quaker Jews. Most Jews don’t see such “Judaism plus” as a problem for Jews. I have an adjective, myself: atheist Jew, so some Jews might think of me as a “Jew minus.” However, I’m not such a minority. The Pew Research Center’s landmark new survey of American Jews found that 62 percent say being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and culture, while just 15 percent say it’s a matter of religion. Jews are considerably less religious than the U.S. public as a whole, with 23 percent of Jewish Americans saying they don’t believe in God, compared to only seven percent in the general public.
Even religious Jews are generally not very concerned about the existence of atheist Jews. They reserve their antagonism for Jews with a different adjective: Messianic Jews (Jews for Jesus). Much to the surprise of many Jews, the Pew Survey showed that 34 percent of American Jews think that a person can be Jewish if he or she believes that Jesus is the Messiah. Had I been surveyed, I would have been among those 34 percent. In fact, I think the percentage should be much higher. Ultra-Orthodox Jews have more beliefs in common with Jews for Jesus than with Jews like me. Both sects believe that a Messiah is coming. They differ only on whether it will be his first or second trip to Earth. When my Orthodox uncle died, his family flew his body to Jerusalem for burial because he and a number of other Jews believe that those buried in Jerusalem will be resurrected first when the Messiah comes.
Washington, DC -- The Secular Coalition for America today encouraged Americans to celebrate the annual National Family Week by practicing acceptance and inclusion of all types of families and family members.
National Family Week is an annual celebration observed during the week of Thanksgiving, for more than 40 years. Family Week is designed to build community connections and honor those who strengthen families including events that involve families, community forums, resource fairs, volunteer projects, seminars, and awards programs.
"In recent years, we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of Americans identifying as nonreligious and atheistic. We've also made great strides in the fight for marriage equality," said Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. "With each Thanksgiving we are seeing the American family structure change and it's a wonderful time to reflect on the positive aspects of those changes and be thankful for the many gifts that diversity brings."
An article in today's New York Times noted that the family has changed dramatically in recent years causing researchers who study family structure and evolution to "express unsullied astonishment" at the rapid transformations. Among the many changes are that American families are becoming more socially egalitarian, and ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse, the Times reported.
The Secular Coalition for America urges Americans to celebrate National Family Week by:
"National Family week is an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of family-and also to make sure everyone in the family has an equal shot under our secular laws," said Rogers. "Families can strengthen their bonds by acknowledging their differences and supporting each other in spite of them."
CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA Communications Manager at email@example.com or (202)299-1091 ext. 205, cell (202)630-9725
Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy were okay, but unquestionably my favorite TV cowboy in the early 1950s was the Lone Ranger. I’m not sure why I liked him when I was 10, but I now think he was a pretty good role model for atheists. He would initially arouse suspicion because of his masked appearance, as did his trusted sidekick and only friend, Tonto, because he was a Native American. People changed their minds about them after seeing their good works. But the Lone Ranger never hung around for reward money or praise. In each last scene some grateful person would ask, “Who was that masked man?” followed by the answer, “Why, he’s the Lone Ranger.”
Atheists are also sometimes viewed with suspicion, as if they are masking hidden values and questionable morals. When religious believers learn that some of their friends, colleagues, or even family members are atheists, it often dispels former negative stereotypes. But life is not a weekly TV show with happy endings, so good works by a lone atheist usually aren’t enough to change society’s mind. In fact, here are a couple of recent examples from my home state, where organizations refused to allow atheists to participate in charitable endeavors.
Last month, a Spartanburg, South Carolina soup kitchen excluded atheists from volunteering. Its executive director said she’d resign from her job before she would let atheists volunteer and be a “disservice to this community,” adding that her Christian organization that ran the soup kitchen “stands on the principles of God.” Apparently, allowing atheists to help the less fortunate goes against her Christian principles. Instead, the Upstate Atheists raised over $2000 to give care packages to homeless people across the street from the soup kitchen.
My own local group in Charleston, South Carolina, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry has long been active in community building and charitable work. But when we applied this year to participate in the annual YMCA Flowertown Festival, the organizers refused because “We (the YMCA) are a Christian organization.” The legal center at the American Humanist Association pointed out that South Carolina state law prohibits discrimination based on religion in places of public accommodation, and threatened a lawsuit. The YMCA soon reversed its stand “through prayer, consideration and legal counsel.” I leave it for others to decide whether prayer or a potential lawsuit played more of a role in the reversal.