2015.04 Feature: The Easter Challenge

Dan Barker, former child evangelist and now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has a simple challenge for Christian believers: “What happened on that very first Easter morning?” To answer, they must use only the accounts found in the gospels of the New Testament, but they must use all of them — no cherry-picking — to compose a complete, coherent narrative.

You’d think that this would be a trivial task for anyone working off a book supposedly inspired by an omniscient, infallible deity, and that ardent Christians would be leaping at the opportunity.

To see why they’re not, I've prepared a 4-page columnar document which lays out the 4 gospel accounts of the “resurrection” side by side. It's too complex for me to render here on this website, but a PDF copy of it is available to you upon request to Richard S. Russell.

And now, the "Redundancy of the Year" Award:


2015.02 Opinion: Not My Kinda Guy

This is a heartfelt personal message from Richard S. Russell.

I am an atheist.

So is Craig Stephen Hicks, who on Feb. 10 murdered, execution style, 3 young students at the University of North Carolina, ostensibly because he hated religion in general (and Christianity in particular) but for whatever reason felt compelled to take it out on Muslims.

Let there be no mistake about my own reaction to this:
• I respect the right of anyone to believe any damfool piece of cockamamie horse manure they want.
• This does not mean I have to respect the people who believe it.
• It certainly doesn't mean I have any respect for the horseshit itself.
• But under no circumstances should anybody ever, ever, ever go out and bully, harass, discriminate against, torment, threaten, harm, or kill anyone else because of their beliefs. Never! Always wrong!

I condemn the despicable actions of Craig Hicks in the most emphatic terms possible.

He does not speak or act for me or any other atheist I know.


2015.01 News: Charlie Hebdo Gets 1st Zumach Award

(Washington, DC, 2015 Jan. 15)—The American Humanist Association is proud to announce the establishment of a new award, the Henry Zumach Award for Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion, to recognize individuals and organizations that have taken a stand against religious intolerance and bigotry. The award, generously funded by Henry Zumach of Stoddard, Wisconsin, has pledged $10,000 (€8,467) to its first recipient, Charlie Hebdo, the French satire magazine recently attacked by Islamic extremists for its cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

“The purpose of this award is to fight against religious fundamentalism and promote reason and equality for all people,” said Henry Zumach, who is also the founder of the La Crosse Area Freethought Society. “With its continuing commitment to freedom of expression in the face of extreme religion-based hostility, Charlie Hebdo exemplifies the essence of this award.”

The winner of the Henry Zumach Award for Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion was chosen by Henry Zumach and the American Humanist Association. The criteria for the award recipient, which can be an individual or organization, includes a history of activism and compassion that exposes the threat of fundamentalist religion and a bolstering of secular, progressive alternatives to fundamentalist religion, such as education. Charlie Hebdo was chosen as the recipient of the award for its bold stance against extremist ideologies, even after facing an attack by terrorists on January 7, which left twelve people dead, including the magazine’s editor Stéphane Charbonnier.

“Religion shouldn't be protected from criticism, and Charlie Hebdo exemplifies the principle of free speech through its poignant satire,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Humanists are proud to stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, and we’re grateful to Henry Zumach for working with the American Humanist Association to establish this award.”


2014.09 Opinion: The Value of Critical Thinking

Prof. Charles Negy evidently had a lot of pushback in his first class on “Cross-Cultural Psychology” and took the time to write an open letter to his student body (University of Central Florida) about it.


One characteristic of the critical, independent thinker is being able to recognize fantasy versus reality; to recognize the difference between personal beliefs which are nothing more than personal beliefs, versus views that are grounded in evidence, or which have no evidence.

Last class meeting and for 15 minutes today, we addressed “religious bigotry.” Several points are worth contemplating:

Religion and culture go “hand in hand.” …

Students in my class who openly proclaimed that Christianity is the most valid religion, as some of you did last class, portrayed precisely what religious bigotry is. Bigots—racial bigot or religious bigots—never question their prejudices and bigotry.


2014.08 News: Sunday Assembly Coming to Madison

The first formal gathering of Madison’s Sunday Assembly won’t be until Sep. 28, but this afternoon there was an introductory potluck picnic hosted by the organizers of the Sunday Assembly at a city park near the Prairie Unitarian Society. Organizer Robert Park reports that "About 25 of us attended, with great food and conversation. "


2014.08 News: "Nones" Now a Plurality among Millennials

Skip over the part in this article which gloats about the political implications of the now unmistakable shift of the younger generation away from organized religion and just look at the numbers for the 18-30 age cohort:
• 29.5% Protestant
• 27.3% Catholic
•  1.1% Jewish
• 11.2% Other
• 30.9% None

This is just the latest installment in a trend that's been evident for decades: The younger you are, the less likely you are to adhere to a formal religion.

Now, of course, the $64 question is what happens to that cohort as it grows older. Does it replace the older, more devout citizenry, or does it become them?