“HB2, The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” on The Humanist Hour

We’ve got a new podcast up. We had some weird technical difficulties with this one, but the topic and the background provided here make it worth listening anyway.

Of all the recent “religious freedom” legislation passed around the country, perhaps none is so restrictive as North Carolina’s “Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations”. The short version of the bill’s name is the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act,” but it quickly became infamous as HB2.

Passed as a response to a non-discrimination ordinance enacted by the city of Charlotte, HB2 removed the protections under that law and others like it, attempted to redefine “sex” under the law, and barred transgender people from using restrooms on state property that conform to their gender. The legal and economic consequences to North Carolina were swift, but so far, neither the legislature nor the governor shows any willingness to overturn the bill.

On this week’s show, Jenn Wilson and Peggy Knudtson talk to Chris Brook, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, about the ACLU’s suit against the state. Peggy Knudtson and Stephanie Zvan also speak with Danielle White, a transgender activist engaging in civil disobedience against HB2.

Listen to the show.

“HB2, The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” on The Humanist Hour
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“Legal Landscape Roundup”, Amanda Knief on Atheists Talk

Bathroom bills and secular invocations and abortion restrictions. Oh, my!

As we come into a presidential election that will determine the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court, it seems like everyone is engaging in last-ditch attempts to enshrine discrimination in the law. American Atheists National Legal and Public Policy Director, Amanda Knief, joins Stephanie Zvan this Sunday to catch us up on what’s happening around the country and what we can do about it. We’ll also get updates on legal initiatives American Atheists has been working on.

Related Links:

“Legal Landscape Roundup”, Amanda Knief on Atheists Talk

The Humanism of Star Trek

Over at The Humanist Hour this week, we got the creator and the geek perspective on learning and teaching humanism from Star Trek.

The Humanist Hour #192: Susan Sackett & Scott Lohman on the Humanism of Star Trek

Gene Roddenberry was openly humanist, and his best-known creation, Star Trek, reflects his views in many ways. Our guests this week talk about how Star Trek informed their humanism and how they use the show to educate others about humanism.

Susan Sackett became Roddenberry’s executive assistant in the mid-1970s and a humanist shortly thereafter. She contributed story ideas for two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and worked with Roddenberry until his death. She joins us to talk about her career with Roddenberry, working with some of the Star Trek original series actors, and her career in humanism after Roddenberry’s death. Sackett also serves on the AHA Board of Directors.

Scott Lohman is the former president of the Humanists of Minnesota and a self-professed “serious geek.” He runs Diversicon, a science fiction convention in Minnesota, and gives presentations on humanist principles using examples from Star Trek. He joins us to talk about teaching Star Trek to children at Camp Quest.

Susan’s links:

Scott’s links:

The Humanism of Star Trek

“Strange Gods”, Susan Jacoby on Atheists Talk

Susan Jacoby is a writer and author whose works have focused on atheism, secularism, American history and public discourse. She is the author of thirteen books, and spent much of her career as a reporter for various publications including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, The Nation, Glamour, and the AARP Bulletin and AARP Magazine. Susan Jacoby is a member of the honorary boards of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Center for Inquiry, a secular think tank.

Susan Jacoby joins Atheists Talk radio on Sunday to discuss her newest book, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion.

Focusing on the long, tense convergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—each claiming possession of absolute truth—Jacoby examines conversions within a social and economic framework that includes theocratic coercion (unto torture and death) and the more friendly persuasion of political advantage, economic opportunism, and interreligious marriage. Moving through time, continents, and cultures—the triumph of Christianity over paganism in late antiquity, the Spanish Inquisition, John Calvin’s dour theocracy, Southern plantations where African slaves had to accept their masters’ religion—the narrative is punctuated by portraits of individual converts embodying the sacred and profane.

Finally, Jacoby offers a powerful case for religious choice as a product of the secular Enlightenment. In a forthright and unsettling conclusion linking the present with the most violent parts of the West’s religious past, she reminds us that in the absence of Enlightenment values, radical Islamists are persecuting Christians, many other Muslims, and atheists in ways that recall the worst of the Middle Ages.

Tune in this Sunday for our discussion with Susan Jacoby!

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to [email protected] during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

“Strange Gods”, Susan Jacoby on Atheists Talk

Catching Up on The Humanist Hour

I’m catching up on a lot of stuff and easing back into writing for the blog. While I’m doing that, we put up a couple of shows at The Humanist Hour that I’m pretty proud of. You might want to take the opportunity to catch up.

The Humanist Hour #190: Getting “SciCurious” with Bethany Brookshire

On this week’s show, Stephanie Zvan interviews Dr. Bethany “SciCurious” Brookshire about effective strategies for convincing people of scientific truths, the common mistakes we make when we set out to teach people about science. Brookshire recently co-edited Science Blogging: The Essential Guide.

For nearly a decade, former neuroscientist Dr. Bethany Brookshire has been writing about science for online audiences. Best known to science-blogging fans as “SciCurious,” Dr. Brookshire writes about – among other topics – neurotransmitters (the chemicals that make our brains run), evaluating scientific results in context, rats in tiny pants, and duck penises. You can’t forget the duck penises.

SciCurious’s Links:

The Humanist Hour #191: Sincere Kirabo on Building Social Justice

Over the past year or so, the American Humanist Association has been making changes to reflect its commitment to social justice. These changes can be found in the pages of The Humanist magazine and the words of its leaders. Change can also be found more recently in the announcement that Sincere Kirabo would be stepping into the role of the AHA’s social justice coordinator.

This week, we welcome Sincere back to the show. He speaks with Peggy Knudtson and Jenn Wilson about his new role, what social justice and intersectionality mean, and the ways that social media can be used to further the cause of social justice.

Sincere’s links:

Catching Up on The Humanist Hour

Justin Scott on Interviewing Presidential Candidates

In this week’s show, Stephanie Zvan introduces interviewer Peggy Knudtson, and Peggy and Jenn Wilson talk to Justin Scott about his work to get politicians on record on the separation of church and state.

As an Iowan, activist, and atheist, Justin Scott has had a unique opportunity to represent nontheists in the political process. The timing of the Iowa caucuses means that 2016 presidential candidates spend a lot of time answering questions from average citizens, and Justin has used this opportunity to press the candidates on church-state separation and issues of religious privilege. His YouTube videos of the candidate’s answers have propelled the debate over religion in the public sphere into the headlines.

Justin’s links:

Yep, new The Humanist Hour. Go check it out.

Justin Scott on Interviewing Presidential Candidates

“Secular Social Justice”, Donald R. Wright on Atheists Talk

An atheism that changes nothing about the world but whether people believe in gods is a weak atheism. A humanism that concerns itself only with the flourishing of people who are already comfortable is a weak humanism. A vigorous secular movement requires engagement with the major issues and human rights challenges of our time. The Secular Social Justice conference, this January 30 and 31 in Houston, Texas, embraces that mission. From the conference website:

The conference will address the lived experiences, cultural context, shared struggle and social history of secular humanist people of color and their allies.  It will focus on topics such as economic justice, women of color beyond faith, LGBTQ atheists of color, African American Humanist traditions in hip hop, racial politics and the New Atheism and more.

This Sunday, Donald R. Wright of Houston Black Non-Believers, one of the organizers of the Secular Social Justice conference, joins us to discuss the upcoming conference. We’ll also talk about 2014’s Moving Social Justice conference, out of which this conference grew.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to [email protected] during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

“Secular Social Justice”, Donald R. Wright on Atheists Talk

“Thomas and the Bible”, Thomas Smith on Atheists Talk

On May 9th of 2010, Thomas Smith embarked on a quest to share his journey through the Bible with strangers on the internet. Thus began the Thomas and the Bible podcast. He started – as the Bible does – in the beginning. Genesis 1-5 posted on May 10th, 2010 and has continued to this day. Five years and 217 episodes later and we’re up to Luke 14-17. Thomas and his podcast are described by their iTunes reviewers as hilarious, educational, articulate, witty, and more than one reviewer commented along the lines that if you have to read the Bible, this podcast is the way to do it.

Thomas Smith also produces Atheistically Speaking, a podcast that deals with a whole host of issues of interest to Thomas that don’t necessarily have anything to do with atheism. Atheistically Speaking highlights the fact that atheists are not monolithic in their beliefs.

Join us this Sunday as we speak with Thomas about his experiences exploring the Bible and atheism.

Related Links:

Continue reading ““Thomas and the Bible”, Thomas Smith on Atheists Talk”

“Thomas and the Bible”, Thomas Smith on Atheists Talk

“The Myths that Stole Christmas”, David Kyle Johnson on Atheists Talk

From Humanist Press:

We all secretly know that Christmas isn’t wholly good cheer, but David Kyle Johnson is brave enough to say it. The Myths that Stole Christmas debunks the biggest misconceptions about America’s most popular holiday and dares readers to take it back and make the season their own!

In a tone that is both analytical and conversational, Johnson’s The Myths that Stole Christmas critiques the frivolous consumerism, religious extremism and the “Santa Claus lie” that characterize Christmas today. But far from being a holiday Grinch, Johnson also presents his readers with a way to reclaim Christmas so that it can again be a time of joy and community, not an expensive and divisive obligation.

Johnson begins his book with a bold assertion: Many of us just don’t like Christmas. Or, we like it, but we wish it weren’t such a burdensome obligation. The Myths That Stole Christmasunpacks the cultural baggage that Christmas has accumulated, from the $12 billion of “deadweight loss” gifts purchased that recipients do not even want to the way in which the Religious Right has hijacked the season to erode the wall of separation between church and state.

Along the way, Johnson’s meticulous research enlightens his readers about the history of Christmas and Santa Claus and their pagan roots, and explains how the Christmas traditions we take for granted, such as decorated trees and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, were invented. Johnson systematically debunks the myth that “The Santa Claus Lie is Harmless,” while suggesting a workable, positive approach for parents in a Santa-obsessed season. But in the book’s final chapter, Johnson addresses the most pervasive Christmas myth of all—that our current Yuletide habits are inevitable and we cannot change them. Instead of letting Christmas control us, it’s high time we took control of Christmas!

Continue reading ““The Myths that Stole Christmas”, David Kyle Johnson on Atheists Talk”

“The Myths that Stole Christmas”, David Kyle Johnson on Atheists Talk

“The Fear Babe”, Kavin Senapathy on Atheists Talk

Being concerned for our health is big business these days, and marketing that business relies on making us just as concerned. Unfortunately, much of that marketing involves spreading bad information, making us afraid of the things that will drive business, not the things that threaten our health. When our world is made out of chemicals, making us indiscriminately afraid of chemicals does nothing but add to our stress. Unfortunately, stress is also bad for our health.

This week’s guest, science writer Kavin Senapathy, is working to defeat this fear-based marketing through a number of initiatives. From the book she co-wrote with Marc Draco and Mark Alsip, The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House, to using the tactics of the fear industry against them, she is working hard to replace sensationalism with good information. Tune in this Sunday to hear more about her work and why it’s so important.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to [email protected] during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

“The Fear Babe”, Kavin Senapathy on Atheists Talk