publications may require that you sign up for membership to view
Six Myths of
Atheism - National
It could lead to a wider discussion of
atheism. It is easy to be a quiet atheist — but much harder to
remain an atheist when you actually have to explain
FILM, TV, YOU TUBE
Battlefield Report From the Evolution
War - New York Times
"Nova" had already
run an eight-part series on evolution, in 2001. And in the making of
it, she recalled, she and her colleagues had felt "really assaulted"
discovered a fossil that represents a new genus of great
SEPARATION CHURCH /
Secular Group to Protest Prayer for Rain - WIA-TV
... prayer service intended
to ask for relief from the Southeastern drought, saying the rally
violates the principle of separation of church and state.
sanctuary movement -
Equal application of the law is
one of America's founding principles -- as is separation of church
and state. When churches choose to actively engage in
Church role in youth therapy is
challenged - Bismarck
... that nearly deifies an extra-constitutional
concept, separation of church and state, can coexist respectfully
with a right to freedom of religion. ...
Judge considers fate of UHP highway
crosses - Salt Lake
Brian Barnard, the attorney for American Atheists
Inc., contended it is not. The group has asked the Utah Highway
Patrol Association to remove the 12-foot ...
stops enforcement of silence law - USA Today
... that there is no
motive for a moment of silence except a religious one," says Barry
Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
... to the use of bonds to
fund a church project and said he hopes the council votes against
them "to respect the separation between church and state.
for Atheism (CFA) was established by the New
York City Atheists as a separate and independent national
organization to propose, develop, and be a catalyst for new
national activities supporting the objectives of atheists,
agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, secularists and
accept and review suggestions from individuals and other
secular organizations that will foster our goals.
no special notices this
The Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS) needs your
voice to prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) from
becoming New York State law.
We need you to send letters to
your New York representatives urging them to reject this proposed
law, which threatens our rights as New Yorkers. RFRA legislation has
been introduced in both the Assembly (A9098) and the Senate (S6464)
and has the support of Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Click here for a
sample letter to send your representatives:
RFRA claims to protect religious freedoms by
allowing people to practice their faith without undue government
interference. RFRA was passed in congress in 1993 and was struck
down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. The Court ruled that RFRA
cannot be a federal law. Since that ruling, almost a dozen states
have passed their own RFRA. New York may be the next state to pass
The Danger of RFRA
problematic in that it not only pits the religious against the
nonreligious, but religion against religion. Those organized
religions that have wide appeal or have already been embraced by the
mainstream are likely to be seen as having a more justified claim to
protecting their religious practices than those religions that are
seen as taboo, misunderstood and less popular. As U.S. Supreme
Court Justice Stevens pointed out, in the 1997 ruling, RFRA is a
"law respecting an establishment of religion" that violates the
First Amendment to the Constitution -- not protects it.
York Doesn't Need RFRA
RFRA is unnecessary because it is
redundant on both the federal level and state level. Our right to
religious freedom is already protected in the Bill of Rights and the
New York State Constitution. So why is RFRA allegedly important?
Advocates will want you to believe that your right to religious
freedom is insecure. But on what grounds do they make this claim? To
date, cases in New York State have been dealt with fairly and
efficiently. So what is the real motivation behind RFRA?
Motivation Behind RFRA
Perhaps one possible motivation is
ensuring that certain organized religions gain access to goods,
resources and services that are not available to the average citizen
and definitely not available to those who do not endorse any
particular religion. RFRA essentially establishes special rights for
religious believers that are not available to other Americans. In
this way, it is discriminatory and unfair. RFRA is unjust
because it is the government's duty not to interfere with religious
practices or to give preference to any specific religion over the
lack of religion.
In spite of its language that advocates
tolerance and freedom, RFRA actually encourages discrimination
against those who do not believe in organized religion.
In these ways, RFRA is flawed. Sure, protecting
religious freedom sounds good, but at what cost? Opposition to
this legislation is crucial in order to truly protect every single
person's rights, fairly and equally. Speak out
What Can You Do?
*If you live in New York State,
please support our issues by getting involved in the legislative
process. Please call and send the letter below to your local
representatives and to both:
Senate Majority Leader
Joe Bruno, Senate Majority Leader
Albany Office, Room 909
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
Albany Office, Room 932, Legislative Office
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (212) 312 -1420
look up your representatives:
Below is a sample letter you can send to your
Subject: Oppose A9098/S6464 for
Dear [Your Representative's Name],
urge you not to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
(A9098/S6464) in New York State.
This legislation, if signed
into law, could establish special rights for certain religious
believers that are not available to other New Yorkers. Although this
legislation theoretically claims to protect religious freedom, it
actually encourages discrimination against minority religions and
the roughly 2 million New Yorkers who do not endorse organized
religion at all. It will put neutral laws under scrutiny and could
permit goods, services, resources and privileges to be allocated
unjustly to those who endorse religion.
In addition, RFRA is
unnecessary. At both the federal and state level our religious
freedom is already securely protected. Existing law already prevents
legislation from placing an undue burden on religion or overly
interfering with religious practices. I believe RFRA's scope is too
far-reaching and may actually violate the First Amendment to the
Because it is redundant, unjust and
discriminatory, especially in the practical application versus the
theoretical language used, we ask you to make sure RFRA does not
become state law.
For additional information about why RFRA
(A9098/S6464) is dangerous to New Yorkers, please contact the
Institute for Humanist Studies in Albany, N.Y. at 518-432-7820,
Thank you for your attention to this
The Institute for
Humanist Studies is dedicated to educating the public about humanist
beliefs, organizations, and resources.
questions about Public Policy or New York legislation can be
addressed to Jennifer Lange, IHS Legislative Liason.