Humanism

70 years ago Walter Plywaski fought for atheists’ right to become citizens – here’s why his story is worth remembering

August 2, 2021

Walter Plywaski’s death earlier this year from complications related to COVID-19 went largely unnoticed by national media.

Only an invitation by his family to donate to the civil liberties group ACLU in Plywaski’s memory gave hint to his legacy in the fight for religious freedom. Almost 70 years ago, Plywaski fought for the right of atheists to become U.S. citizens – and won.

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Atheist and humanist groups sue Mississippi over state’s ‘In God We Trust’ license plate

June 23, 2021

(RNS) — Atheist and humanist groups are suing Mississippi over the state’s “In God We Trust” license plate, calling it unconstitutional and seeking alternatives that don’t require additional fees for Mississippi drivers.

In a federal complaint filed Tuesday (June 22) in Mississippi U.S. district court, American Atheists, the Mississippi Humanist Association and three nonreligious Mississippi residents claim the state’s license plate violates nonreligious people’s freedom of speech by forcing them to display the religious message on their vehicles.

“The phrase ‘IN...

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Unlike other U.S. religious groups, most atheists and agnostics oppose the death penalty

June 15, 2021

A majority of adults in the United States favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. However, views about the death penalty vary by religion – with atheists and agnostics opposing this form of punishment at about the same rate as Americans overall support it.

Atheists oppose the death penalty about as strongly as Protestants favor it
Roughly two-thirds of atheists (65%) and six-in-ten agnostics (57%) either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder. Atheists and agnostics...

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Religious Groups Keep Faith During Pandemic, Remote Academic Year

February 23, 2021

D. Anthony Alvarez ’21, a member of the Harvard Latter-day Saints Student Association, has attended religious services at the same congregation off campus since he arrived at Harvard as a freshman.

This semester, Alvarez said he still attends services at that same congregation. Amid Covid-19, though, he must sign up to attend ahead of time, don a mask, and eschew singing, which can spread infectious particles.

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American Humanist leader Roy Speckhardt stepping down to make room for diverse leaders

February 6, 2021

Roy Speckhardt announced Friday (Feb. 5) he is stepping down from his position as executive director of the American Humanist Association.

Speckhardt said that after 15 years at the top of the organization, it was time for him to “step down and make room for new leadership,” noting that the most prominent organizations representing atheists and freethinkers have never had non-white leadership.

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Black skeptics find meaning in uplifting their community through social justice

October 15, 2020

Darrin Johnson would like nothing better than to rid the Black community of organized religion.

 The way Johnson sees it, Black people “don’t need outside beliefs or higher powers.”

“We have power,” Johnson said. “We are powerful entities. We just need to use that power.”

As an organizer with his local Black Lives Matter chapter, Johnson, an atheist, has sometimes felt a bit uneasy meeting in churches and working alongside pastors, who, like him, are calling for Black liberation.

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‘Humanists for Biden-Harris’ to mobilize nonreligious vote

September 30, 2020

A new group is launching an effort to court nonreligious voters for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, hoping to mobilize a fast-growing — and deeply liberal — community to benefit Democrats in November.

The “Humanists for Biden” group, a project of the Secular Democrats of America, unveiled its plans on Monday (Sept. 28). The group is chaired by Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib joins Congressional Freethought Caucus

August 21, 2020

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first Muslim women in Congress, has joined the Congressional Freethought Caucus.

Launched in 2018, the caucus seeks to promote secular government, separation of church and state, freedom of conscience and policy “based on reason, science, and moral values,” and to oppose discrimination against nonreligious people, or the so-called nones.

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The gift of anger and brokenheartedness

June 10, 2020

 

“We’ve come this far by faith,” exclaimed the Rev. Al Sharpton last Thursday at the crescendo of his moving eulogy for George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May.

Which emphasized to me that it’s been a difficult time to have faith — not just in divinity, but in anything.

Religions have always preached hope. But from my perspective as a chaplain to atheists and agnostics — and simply as a human being watching our various tribal affiliations...

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New report finds nonreligious people face stigma and discrimination

May 6, 2020

 

For more than 35 years, Jayrod Garrett’s life was immersed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He fondly remembers going on a missionary trip to Hawaii, participating in a scouts program and making lifelong friends. He also recalls how hurt he felt when a church leader didn’t believe him when a group of kids called him the N-word or how tough it was grappling with the church’s stance against gay marriage.

In 2016, after years of feeling conflicted, Garrett left the church.

Now, he identifies as an atheist.

He...

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During coronavirus crisis, Congress’s first caucus for nonreligious belief seeks a larger role in promoting science

April 10, 2020

 

When Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) found out that a Trump administration rule that restricts research using fetal tissue from elective abortions was hampering scientists seeking treatments for the novel coronavirus, he had a coterie of like-minded members of Congress ready to help him protest.

The group is called the Congressional Freethought Caucus — the first caucus for...

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