August 27, 2013 |
Years ago, desperate for a subject for a short “light and bright” editorial, I came across a news story about a telephone company that offered a “Dial-an-Atheist” service. The seeming absurdity of the idea appealed to me, and a punch line formed in my mind. I wrote: “ 'Dial-a-Prayer' has met its match and Lloyd Thoren has met his reward. His reward is the title of 'Atheist of the Year,' bestowed upon him in honor of his answer to 'Dial-a-Prayer.' Mr. Thoren's rural telephone company is the only one in America to offer a 'Dial-an-Atheist' line.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 23, 2013 |
SAN FRANCISCO -- California should compensate an atheist parolee for returning him to prison after he resisted participating in a religious-based drug treatment program, a federal appeals court decided unanimously Friday. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said a jury should award Barry A. Hazle Jr., a drug offender, compensatory damages for his loss of freedom and could consider possible punitive and emotional distress damages as well. The appeals court also ordered a district judge in Sacramento to reconsider whether to issue an injunction to prevent California officials from requiring parolees to attend treatment programs that emphasize God or a “higher power.” After Hazle served a prison term, California ordered him to spend 90 days in a residential 12-step program.
August 17, 2013 |
Jason Heap grew up in Texas among Baptists and Lutherans. He earned a master's from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. Now, at age 38, Heap wants to be a U.S. Navy chaplain. But Heap is a humanist who doesn't believe in God, and the U.S. military has never sanctioned a humanist chaplain. Nor has the Navy acted on Heap's application, filed last month, to become its first approved humanist chaplain. Heap says he's not trying to make a point or bring attention to himself.
May 28, 2013
Re "Prayers in public offices," Editorial, May 21 Here we go again: A few people are offended by official meetings in Greece, N.Y., beginning with a prayer. Just how do such occurrences actually constitute a "law respecting an establishment of religion"? I have never heard a good explanation of how the few activists who take offense to these things have actually had any rights infringed upon. In this case, there is no official religion and no way to enforce one. To the best of my knowledge there is no constitutional right not to be offended.
May 28, 2013
Re "Bigger education, better outcomes," Opinion, May 24 Ronald Brownstein well documents this country's worsening crisis in higher education and how it bodes ill for our future. He presents compelling statistics, to be sure. But Jane Close Conoley, UC Riverside's interim chancellor, sums up the root problem in a disquieting nutshell: the public is "pulling back from a notion that they should be … supporting the education of the next generation. " Those loath to support higher education probably are too shortsighted and self-absorbed to appreciate Nelson Henderson's timeless aphorism: "The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit. " Edward Alston Santa Maria ALSO: Letters: Scouting's new path Letters: Easily offended atheists Letters: Taxing life-saving devices
May 22, 2013 |
They say there are no atheists in foxholes. But apparently, they do exist in the middle of category EF-5 tornadoes. That's what CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer learned during a recent interview with survivors of the destructive Oklahoma tornado on Tuesday. In a clip making the rounds online, Blitzer stands in front of tornado wreckage in Moore, Okla., and asks survivor Rebecca Vitsmun, holding her 19-month-old son, "Do you thank the Lord?" for her survival from the storm. After an awkward pause, Vitsmun replies, "I'm actually an atheist.