In the Media

bib_logo_512px_transparentWe have made our podcasting debut today! Blasphemy In the Bluegrass is a new podcast for atheism, freethought, church/state issues, and all other issues of interest to the secular community of Kentucky. We are based in Louisville, KY and associated with Louisville Atheists & Freethinkers and the Kentucky Secular Society.

To listen to episodes go to http://www.BlasphemyInTheBluegrass.com.

At the end of 2014, signs declaring "In God We Trust" were added to the legislative committee rooms in Frankfort.  Why?

State Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, said he wants to start a project to put the signs in Kentucky courthouses and city halls on a voluntary basis.

“This is our national motto. We should remind people of our God-given rights,” said Robinson before reimbursing the state $2,811.10, including 8 percent interest, for the 13 signs that adorn various legislative committee rooms.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article86866207.html#storylink=cpy
Actually no, Senator Robinson. Our rights do not come from your god. The highest authority in the United States is "we the people," not any supernatural power. These signs only divide up the American citizenry into Christians (as this motto always seems to refer to the Christian God) and everyone else. But we are all citizens and we are equal under the law.

Robinson's amendment said the motto would be displayed "behind each chairman or chairwoman in each committee room used by members of the General Assembly in the Capitol and Capitol Annex."

Asked Monday why the signs are needed, Robinson said, "This is America. I feel like this nation was and is established by God.

"We need to show the same respect in the committee rooms that we show in the Senate and House chambers."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article44542419.html#storylink=cpy
We agree with the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State that these signs indicate a bias in government towards religious citizens and against the non-religious, and this is not appropriate. We are all equal under the secular law of our nation, and the signs and decorations of our government buildings should reflect that.
Here are some of the things LAF members had to say about the IGWT signs in the Kentucky state capital.
  • The word " we" implies that this speaks for all of us which it does not.
  • I feel my government excludes me and others like me as it ignores the intent of the separation of church and state.
  • #InGodWeTrust is demonstrably false. #InGodSomeOfUsTrust is more accurate, but equally irrelevant.
  • Can't trust something that doesn't exist
  • InOneOfCountlessStillActiveGodsThatManHasCreatedThroughoutTheCenturiesSomeOfUsStillPlaceFalseHope. It's a bit of a mouthful.
  • 'In Xenu You Believe' gives me the same feeling. ...
  • Which God do we trust?
  • Because we should focus on uniting over common goals (helping the homeless, bettering education, etc) instead of having Christians throwing up IGWT signs anywhere they can out of spite as they simply come across as children saying "my dad can beat up your dad"
  • I'm more offended by the late addition of under God in the pledge of allegiance, because it is more of an attempt at indoctrination. Both are in place to help normalize religious inclinations.
  • Putting their religion in the pledge is just like what they're doing with throwing up IGWT signs everywhere--they're trying to saturate our culture with their religion in hopes of making it look like it's been a crucial part of our society. It's the sign of a dying religion desperately trying to survive.
  • Because E Pluribus Unum was a much more optimistic, promising, and noble ethos as a national motto.
  • It excludes more than half of the country, persecutes nonbelievers, and prevents religious freedom and true separation of church and state.
  • Because it's not true. In doctors we trust, in friends and family we trust, in blood pressure meds we trust, in SIG Sauers we trust, in seat belts we trust...in neither of the posited gods (the Christian one in this case), does anyone trust. That's why we do all that other shit.
  • Abdicates individual and social responsibility.
  • It implies we can't think/do for ourselves. We trust a being made by man to single us out and favor us over others.

Yesterday we joined with Tri-State Freethinkers to protest the opening of the Ark Encounter theme park. It was a very well attended protest and a great time! But perhaps more importantly, we got lots of media attention.

The day before the protest, Ed and I were interviewed by WDRB and the story aired the same day at 4pm. You can read the story and see the video here.

http://www.wdrb.com/story/32385364/atheists-planning-to-protest-at-public-opening-of-ark-encounter

They also did a follow-up interview at the protest itself, and the story can be seen here.

http://www.wdrb.com/story/32395779/ark-encounter-opening-draws-passion-from-both-sides-of-biblical-argument

Due to the protest, rather than news stations doing fluff pieces on a new theme park in Kentucky, they also covered the opposition and reasons that we oppose it. And that is good news!

Today's paper has a feature on End of the World parties celebrating the Mayan apocalypse and the LAF party got a mention!

Atheists and Freethinkers

For the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers group, Friday is just another day. But it also happens to be the date of its annual holiday party.

“We decided to call it an end-of-the-world party as a fun way to draw attention to it, to have a little fun at the people who claim inaccurately that this is somehow a doomsday predicted by the Mayans,” said Ed Hensley, co-organizer of the group.

But at this time of year, the Atheists and Freethinkers take a tolerant view of the many traditions that evolved around the winter solstice. “We recognize that people observed solstice activities … long before Christianity used the date of Dec. 25 for the celebration of Christ’s birthday.”

“We don’t think there’s anything magical about any of the traditions,” Hensley continued. “Just like Halloween is a fun day to get together and wear costumes and get creative, the longest night of the year or a night near it is a fun time to get together and think about all the things that have happened during the year.”

Full story here: Louisville groups plan apocalypse-themed events to mark the Mayan calendar's supposed Dec. 21 doomsday. The text quoted above is near the end of the article.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union has recently published the findings of a unique study on the discrimination against, and sometimes outright persecution of, atheists and the non-religious all around the world. The examples from a variety of countries range from increased difficulty for atheists in finding jobs due to religious bias, to laws that require choosing a religion and participating in religious rituals,  to actual prison time and hard labor for statements expressing disagreement with religion on social media sites. Even in countries where freedom of religion is the law, many important aspects of life such as family law may be handed over to religious authorities who are almost inevitably biased against the non-religious. I encourage everyone to read the report for themselves, and I have provided a link to the PDF formatted report below.

While much has been written about persecution of religious minorities, very little study has been done on the persecution and discrimination against the non-religious around the world. When such a report is published, it is vital that we inform ourselves and then spread the word that freedom of belief, conscience  and speech is just as important for atheists and the non-religious as it is for those who follow a religion. "Freedom of Religion" does NOT mean freedom only for the religious but for all humans.

IHEU Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious

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Ed was on the Mandy Connell show today, and did a fantastic job representing Louisville Atheists in a pretty hostile environment. Topics covered include the Kentucky Homeland Security case, claims that America is a "Christian Nation," discrimination against atheists, and the case by the Center for Inquiry to gain legal marriage rights for secular celebrants. You can listen to the whole hour below.

Ed Hensley on Mandy Connell

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In a sad decision against religious equality, the Indiana federal court court ruled that it is a necessary part of religious freedom for churches and religious organizations to have rights in marriage that are denied to the non-religious.

“According to the court, what is a required accommodation for the religious, is just a matter of convenience for the nonreligious. It would be difficult to imagine a clearer way to classify nonbelievers as second-class citizens,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI. “A wedding is one of the most important ceremonies in a person’s life, and it is just as meaningful to atheists as it is to theists. It’s disappointing that a 21st-century court refused to recognize this reality."

If marriage were merely a religious affair, it would not come with legally binding rights and responsibilities. And clearly if it were a religious thing only, then atheists would have no more interest in getting married than they would have in going to church. For any country with freedom of religion to favor believers in the supernatural legally in this way is shameful. Why should secular citizens have to get a generic bureaucrat to sign papers to make their marriage legal when the religious get to have the leader of their community offer both a meaningful AND legally binding service in one step?

The full CFI press release, and the text of the court decision, may be found at Court Denies Atheists Right to Choose How to Get Married

UPDATE:

Ed Hensley will be a guest on the Terry Meiner's show on Louisville radio WHAS 840 tomorrow (Nov 30) between 4 and 5 p.m. They will discuss the Ky Homeland Security lawsuit and challenges atheists face living in a community dominated by believers.

Ed will also be a guest on the Mandy Connell show on the same station on Tuesday (Dec 4) between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m.  The topic hasn't been announced. Both shows are available online at http://www.iheart.com/live/969/?autoplay=true.