When Housecleaning Takes Courage
February 19, 2009

In one of the seven U.S. states whose constitutions block atheists from elective office, a legislator dares do the right thing.

A Big Step Forward, a Few Disappointments
January 20, 2009

Barack Obama’s inaugural address made history by acknowledging unbelievers — amid a dismaying amount of God talk

A Spirited Misunderstanding
January 9, 2009

Misunderstanding of the word “spiritual” may compromise the care well-meaning nurses provide to nonreligious patients.

Who Are Our Bedfellows?
December 24, 2008

You can get a pretty good pie fight going even among secular humanists by comparing attitudes on the holidays. Me, I’ve been Yule-free for 24 years now, and I’ve been emphatic in praising initiatives to tone down holiday symbolism in public places as America grows more diverse. I was the one you heard cheering when all the holiday finery was briefly removed from Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport two years ago. And I’ve been raising the same cheers for UNC-Chapel Hill, where the main libraries opted not to display their Christmas trees in deference to the campus’s growing non-Christian population. I’m all for this sort of reform, and I hope (and expect) to see lots more in future years. I recognize that’s a controversial position among humanists, quite a few of whom view stuff like this as political correctness run amok. “Why waste effort being concerned with non-Christians taking offense at Christmas?” they say. “The holiday’s so secular it hardly even serves as an emblem of Christianity anymore.”

Almost Quiet on the Yule War Front
December 22, 2008

Continuing with my roundup of War on Christmas 2008, such as it is, what are some of the flashpoints other than the atheist placard in Washington’s state capitol?

The War on Xmas Will Not Be Televised … at Least Not Much
December 19, 2008

So far 2009’s “helladay” season bids fair to teach us the same lesson as the 2008 season did. The “War on Christmas” is a rhetorical construct that right-wing bloviators can flog and pundits can wring their hands about, but only so long as there isn’t too much real news. Both the ’08 and ’09 seasons have featured commanding news story arcs. Last year all eyes were on the presidential campaign, and now the reigning story is of course the not-so-graudal dissolution of the world economy. And news stories about seasonal strife have been few and hard to come by.