More Religious Tests in Schools

Love the answer

Yes, you read that right!  Let’s have more religious tests in public schools.  Here’s my reasoning.

In some states, parents are up in arms that Islam is taught as part of a history course.  Then we read that it’s hard for a child to get into school in Ireland unless they’re baptized Catholic.

One more story:  a local Episcopal priest knows that I used to teach courses on World Wisdom traditions.  She was concerned because someone wanted to lead a book discussion at church on Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, Heretic.  The priest wasn’t sure if this would lead to misunderstandings about Islam.

My response was that I recommend the book (esp. since I’m a secular freethinker!) and think that people will be fine if there is a thoughtful and balanced facilitator.  I said that when I teach courses on religions (from a naturalistic perspective) I always encourage students to

  1.  Read the scriptures of other faiths and make up their own minds
  2. Meet people of other faiths to give a more direct, human face to the issues

I then told the priest that I think both of these critical steps are missing from most of our educational approaches.

So, as I say, maybe it’s time to teach about religions (faith as well as non faith) in schools–public as well as private schools.  Otherwise, how in the world are people, especially little people, ever going to learn to make rational choices from a variety of worldviews?

This is happening in many places, in numerous progressive schools.  But not enough.  Wherever there is fear-based faith running unchecked, we get a shut-down of reasonable discussion, which of course always leads to more fear and irrationality.  In other words, it leads to bad education. . .or no education really at all.


MLK: Secular Freethinker?

King-National Cathedral

Dr. King was of course a minister with a strong personal faith.  He was a Christian, perhaps in the best sense of that label.  Yet, it seems clear to me that Martin was also a freethinking kind of mind whose intentions and goals were utimately similar if not identical to freethinking secular minds.

Dr. King was one shining inspiration for me to enter the ministry, especially chaplaincy, in the 1980’s.  His words continued to ring as I read them with jail inmates, streetpeople and congregational classes.  And those words still ring for me, years after leaving the church, faith and ministry–at least “formal” (ordained) ministry.

On this weekend when the world remembers Dr. King and celebrates his legacy, I was reading his last Sunday morning sermon.  He was preaching in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  The date was March 31, 1968, just days before his body–but not his mind–was silenced.

The sermon was “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.”  Here are just a few excerpts.  I think they help establish the fact that this wise leader, though he employed images and stories from his own tradition, was indeed a freethinker with his feet firmly rooted in our secular world.

“One of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands.  They end up sleeping through a revolution.”

“We are challenged to develop a world perspective. . . .  We must all learn to live together as brothers [and sisters].  Or we will all perish together as fools.”

“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

“The time is always ripe to do right.”

“Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation.”

“I say to you that our goal is freedom, and I believe we are going to get there because however much she strays from it, the goal of America is freedom.”

Dr. King ends this eloquent call to the faithful to Wake Up by asking people to be “participants in this newness” to “bring about a new day of justice and brotherhood and peace.”

Yes, he says these words and hopes and prayers in the name of God.  But he speaks to all people who are Awakening, to all who share that dream of the new day.

For me, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is a kind of Secular Saint.  Certainly a Freethinking Chaplain ringing a bell for freedom of body and mind.

Spiritual and secular alike.  May we awaken together.  And, may his message never rest!

A Free Thought by a Free Mind

Christmas 2015-2.JPG
Alpine Lake, Marin Watershed, Christmas Day 2015

“The canon law, the Scriptures, the creeds and codes and church discipline of the leading religions bear the impress of fallible [human beings], and not of our ideal great first cause, ‘the Spirit of all Good,’ that set the universe of matter and mind in motion, and by immutable law holds the land, the sea, the planets, revolving round the great centre of light and heat, each in its own elliptic, with millions of stars in harmony all singing together, the glory of creation forever and ever.”

~Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Woman’s Bible (1895)

Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton.jpg
“Infidel Friends”-Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

I’ll be teaching a class in a few weeks on the Freethought Tradition.  Stanton’s radical freethinking is an inspiring thread.  A strong representative voice for the creative force she called “the Spirit of Good.”

Who Has the Tallest Jesus?

Nigerian Jesus
30 feet high. . .40 tons of marble. . .half the pop. is Muslim

What do you do when your faith has little to offer the nation, the community, the world.  Well, if you’re really rich, you build a Bigger God!

Massive Statue of Jesus in Nigeria (FAUX News)

Oh, and make sure that Your God is as WHITE as possible even though he was made in China and looks down on a country and a continent that is overwhelmingly BLACK!

{head shaking. . .eyes rolling. . .trying to smile. . .but can’t}


PC or RC?


This pretty much nails so much of the whining we hear.

What’s left out is the fact that so much of the complaining is really about Religious Correctness.  “My Exceptional Faith is Right (correct) and deserves privilege, priority and precedence over your faith, or your godlessness!”

“Ortho-doxy”:  right + view

When you have faith and God on your side, your views can be as “incorrect” (read:  irrational; beyond discussion) as you choose.  Then everyone else who challenges you can be dismissed. . .”Oh, they’re just being PC.”

Let’s not let them off on this one.  Great comic.