Podcast #248 – Cruz Is No Lucifer, but Trump Might Be the Anti-Christ

cruztrumpRecently retired Speaker of the House John Boehner told a Stanford University audience that  Texas Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz was “Lucifer in the flesh” and “the most miserable son of a bitch” he’s ever worked with. Nobody’s less happy about the comparison than actual Satanists, who don’t think Lucifer is real to begin with, and who object to Cruz’s incessant moralizing and desire for full-on Christian theocracy. (Of course, Cruz has since dropped out of the campaign, leaving the field wide open for walking id Donald Trump.)

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore continues his crusade to make life miserable for the LGBT community. He’s sticking to his orders to state officials to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v Hodges, which ensures equal treatment for same-sex couples who want to get married. Moore held a press conference recently, saying that “atheists, homosexuals and transgender individuals” were behind complaints against him. Well, duh.

Actor and fundamentalist evangelical Kirk Cameron is at it again. This time he’s describing his (or maybe God’s) version of a perfect marriage: “Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband’s lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband.” Yeah.


Get ready for the Reason Rally, June 4th at the Lincoln Memorial. David will be there–say hi if you can find him.

DragonCon will be here before you know it. John and Allison will be there, doing a live show if all goes as planned. Meanwhile, send your suggestions for topics we can cover or questions we can answer, and if you’re looking to get married

To listen to this episode click here.


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May 5 in freethought history…

delmartinMay 5, 1921 – Lesbian activist Del Martin is born Dorothy Louise Taliaferro in San Francisco, California. With longtime partner Phyllis Lyon, she co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis (America’s first lesbian organization) in 1955, and in 1964, Martin and Lyon co-founded the San Francisco-based Council on Religion and the Homosexual, which included Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, and United Church of Christ representatives. Martin died in 2008, aged 87.

May 5, 1925 – High school science teacher John T. Scopes is charged with teaching evolution in violation of Tennessee’s Butler Act (which barred public schools from teaching evolution in contradiction to the Biblical story of creation), thus leading to the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial.

May 5, 1973The Ascent of Man begins airing on the BBC. Created by Polish-British mathematician and science historian Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974), this 13-part series explored humanity’s biological and technological evolution. The Ascent of Man is considered one of the greatest British television programs of all time; it influenced many subsequent television projects at home and abroad, most notably Carl Sagan’s 13-part COSMOS.

May 5, 2011 – Paul J. Gaylor dies in Madison, Wisconson, aged 84. He was the husband of the late Anne Nicol Gaylor, founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Mr. Gaylor also served in the leadership of the FFRF until his death.

May 5, 2014 – The Supreme Court of the United States rules, in Greece v Galloway, that the town of Greece, New York, does not violate the Constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state by opening council meetings with sectarian prayers. The Court elaborated that such invocations should be open to all faiths and should not be coercive in nature. The controversial ruling was a 5-4 decision, with strong dissenting opinions by the liberal justices.

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May 4 in freethought history…

thomashuxleyMay 4, 1825 – English biologist Thomas Huxley is born in Ealing, United Kingdom. Huxley’s work in comparative anatomy led to his conclusion (widely accepted by scientists today) that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Huxley was an energetic advocate for colleague Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, earning the nickname “Darwin’s Bulldog.” He also coined the term “agnostic.” Huxley died in 1895, aged 70.

May 4, 2013 – Civil rights activist Alton Lemon dies near Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, aged 84. Lemon was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Lemon v Kurtzman, which found public funding of private school salaries unconstitutional. (The ruling gave birth to the “Lemon Test,” a guideline for determing whether a piece of legislation violates the separation of church and state.) Lemon described himself as an “ethical humanist,” and served as the first African-American leader of the Philadelphia Ethical Society.

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May 3 in freethought history…

charlesbradlaughMay 3, 1880 – English atheist Charles Bradlaugh, recently elected as a Member of Parliament, requests to be allowed to affirm his oath, rather than take the religious Oath of Allegiance. A political scandal unfolded over the next six years, which included Bradlaugh’s arrest for refusing to withdraw. Authorities declared he had forfeited his seat, but Bradlaugh was re-elected by his constituency four times. He was eventually allowed to take his seat in 1886, and in 1888 he succeeded in gaining passage of the Oaths Act, which expressly allowed affirmations rather than oaths to God.

May 3, 1933 – Physicist Steven Weinberg is born in New York City. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979, and was named Humanist of the Year in 2002 by the American Humanist Association. Weinberg is an outspoken atheist, having said, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

May 3, 2015 – Two heavily armed men wearing body armor are shot and killed by police as they attempt to storm the First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. The exhibit was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (also known as Stop Islamization of America), a right-wing extremist group known for Islamophobic ad campaigns. One security guard was injured during the shoot-out.

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May 2 in freethought history…

theodorherzlMay 2, 1860 – Theodor Herzl, journalist and father of modern Zionism, is born in Budapest, Hungary. Raised by assimilated Jews, Herzl considered himself an atheist. Widespread persecution and anti-Semitism throughout Europe convinced Herzl that Jews should create a homeland, preferably in their historic homeland of Palestine. Herzl died in 1904 in Austria, aged 44. (The State of Israel would not be born for another 44 years after Herzl’s death.)

May 2, 1903 – American pediatrician Benjamin Spock, whose books on childrearing offered a more humane and individualistic alternative to the colder behaviorist model, is born in New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Spock, who was also an activist for civil rights and against war, was named Humanist of the Year in 1968 by the American Humanist Association. He died in 1998, aged 94.

May 2, 2008 – Ellen Johnson is removed as president of American Atheists by the Board of Directors, for reasons that have never been made clear. Johnson assumed the presidency in 1995, shortly after the disappearance (later revealed as murder) of president Jon Garth Murray, his mother Madalyn Murray O’Hair and niece Robin Murray.  Johnson was succeeded by interim president Frank Zindler.

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May 1 in freethought history…

ludwigbuchnerMay 1, 1899 – Philosopher and physiologist Ludwig Büchner dies in Darmstadt, Germany, aged 75. He was a foremost German proponent of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories, and published a number of scientific books in which he vehemently advocated an extreme materialist view (which included an insistence on the indestructibility of matter). His writings inspired German secularists, and in 1881 he founded the German Freethinkers League, which eventually attracted half a million members before being closed by the Nazis in 1933.

May 1, 1910 – George Walser dies at the age of 75 in Liberal, Missouri, the town he founded in 1880 as an atheist utopia. Walser had hoped to attract nonbelievers from far and wide–and he did attract a few. But he also attracted even more Christians who, although discouraged from coming, moved to Liberal in the hopes of converting the populace. The Liberal experiment was short-lived: within 20 years or so the faithful outnumbered the infidels, and in later life Walser himself became a Christian, even writing a book titled Life and Teachings of Jesus.

May 1, 2003 – The American Humanist Association observes the first annual National Day of Reason, a reaction to the National Day of Prayer. Both events take place annually on the 1st Thursday in May.

May 1, 2007 –  Christopher Hitchens’ book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is published by Twelve Books. It is widely considered one of the essential books of modern freethought, and secured Hitchens’ place (along with Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett) as one of the so-called Four Horsemen of New Atheism.

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April 30 in freethought history…

washingtonoathApril 30, 1789 – George Washington is sworn in as the first President of the United States of America. While it has become traditional for presidents to tack on “so help me God” after the official oath of office, it is uncertain that Washington did so. No contemporary sources mention Washington making this addition; some modern commentators insist that adding “so help me God” to oaths was so common in those days that for Washington not to have done it would have been noteworthy. It is also possible that the oath was read to him in the form of a question (“Do you, George Washington, solemnly swear…?”) and that Washington simply replied “I do.” Some reports indicate that Washington bent to kiss a Bible after being administered the oath by Chancellor of New York (and co-drafter of the Declaration of Independence) Robert Livingston. The first reliable contemporary evidence of any president adding “so help me God” to his oath of office comes from 1881, when Chester A. Arthur was sworn in after the assassination of James Garfield.

April 30, 1976 – The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) is founded in Buffalo, New York, by a group of luminaries that included Paul Kurtz and Carl Sagan. In 2006, CSICOP changed its name to the less unwieldy Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

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April 29 in freethought history…

johnkennethgalbraithApril 29, 2006 – Economist John Kenneth Galbraith dies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aged 97. Born in Canada, Galbraith spent his adult life in the United States, where his influence extended to the social and political: he was a speechwriter and advisor to JFK and other prominent liberal politicians, and he served as Ambassador to India. He received numerous awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and he was named Humanist of the Year in 1985 by the American Humanist Association. “I have managed most of my life to exclude religious speculation from my mode of thought. I’ve found that, on the whole, it adds very little to economics.”

April 29, 2014 – The “Openly Secular” coalition is announced, a cooperative effort involving the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the Secular Coalition for America, the Secular Student Alliance and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. The mission of Open Secular is “to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting secular people – including atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and nonreligious people – to be open about their beliefs.”

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April 28 in freethought history…

williamlewismooreApril 28, 1927 – Civil rights activist William Lewis Moore is born in Binghamton, New York. Moore was murdered in 1963 near Attalla, Alabama, while on a solo protest march, in which he intended to walk from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi, to deliver a letter to Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. The letter said, in part, “the white man cannot be truly free himself until all men have their rights.” Although the gun’s ownership was traced, no charges were ever filed. Moore’s death inspired at least three protest songs. In 2008, on the 45th anniversary of Moore’s death, American Atheists President Ellen Johnson and atheist activist Ken Loukinen set out to complete Moore’s march. When they arrived at their destination some days later, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declined to see them.

April 28, 1948 – English fantasy writer Terry Pratchett (author of the much-beloved Discworld novels) is born in Beaconsfield, England. Pratchett was an early adopter of computer technology and, in his later years, a staunch advocate of the right to die. Of Christianity, Pratchett (who had a humanist funeral service), said, ” I was inoculated against the Christian religion by reading the whole of the Old Testament in one go (apart from the begats). And I thought if this were true, we were in the hands of a maniac.” He died in 2015 after a prolonged battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s, aged 66.

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April 27 in freethought history…

marywollstonecraftApril 27, 1759 – Pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft is born in London, England. She is best known for her bestselling and influential book Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Wollstonecraft died due shortly after giving birth to her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley), author of the seminal science fiction novel Frankenstein.

April 27, 2007 – In an interview published in the May 7, 2007 issue of New York magazine, when asked if anyone in the George W. Bush administration was an atheist, Christopher Hitchens responded, “I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, ‘I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith.’” Rove has since refuted this claim, once telling an interviewer, “I called Mr. Hitchens after he made his erroneous statement and as the true gentlemen he is, he apologized. He has seen a quote in which I remarked on my admiration for the faith of White House colleagues which I felt was deeper and richer than mine and misquoted it. I am a practicing Christian who attends a bible-centered Episcopal church in Washington and an Anglican church in Texas.”

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