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posted by janrinok on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the on-a-wing-and-a-prayer dept.

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

Washington, DC—American Atheists expressed outrage today at the drastic changes implemented by the Trump administration that will further elevate religious beliefs above the law.

Without any substantive public announcement, the administration made changes to the policy manuals for U.S. Attorneys’ offices and Department of Justice (DOJ) litigation offices. These offices are now required to assign a staff member to monitor all litigation and immediately inform high-ranking political appointees at DOJ whenever the offices are subject to a lawsuit involving religious liberty, when religious liberty is used as a defense in litigation, or when the offices file a suit involving religious issues.

These changes also require U.S. Attorneys and litigation offices to seek the approval of the Associate Attorney General—who is a political appointee—before proceeding with any civil suit that may involve religious liberty issues. By doing so, the Trump administration is favoring religious beliefs above all other matters, and is eroding the independence of these offices by allowing a political appointee to overrule the judgment of career DOJ attorneys.

"This is a breathtaking expansion of religious privilege in the DOJ," said American Atheists' legal and policy director Alison Gill. "These policy changes significantly undermine the rule of law and favor religious beliefs at the expense of nondiscrimination and equal protection."

"Requiring the approval of religious political appointees before enforcing the law is something I would expect to see in a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia, but I'm rapidly losing any sense of shock and surprise at the lengths this administration will go to impose the beliefs of religious extremists on all Americans," added David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

This latest attack on religious neutrality comes two weeks after the Trump administration created the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. This new division is charged with shielding medical professionals who, because of their own religious objections, refuse to treat patients.

Source: https://www.atheists.org/2018/02/doj-religion-czars/


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by TheRaven on Thursday February 08 2018, @09:45AM (10 children)

    by TheRaven (270) on Thursday February 08 2018, @09:45AM (#634796) Journal

    Demonstrably false is a little bit strong for some of the core beliefs of religions (though not things like the flood and the significance of rainbows), because many of the core claims are not falsifiable. Religions have gone from claiming an activist god who is responsible for everything to gradually parring it back as more things were explained until they end up with a god that defined the initial conditions of the universe and then waits until people die to judge them. The last gasp of the interventionist deity hypothesis was the 'God of the gaps' idea, that God was found inside all of the little bits that science can't explain, but each time science explains something else the gaps get smaller and the hypothesis looks weaker and weaker.

    If your claim is that there exists a god, but that it doesn't interact with the universe in any way, then you hit Occam's Razor. This is often misquoted as saying that the simplest explanation is most likely to be the correct one, but that's an oversimplification of the argument. Occam pointed out that, for any given hypothesis, you can always add more factors that don't contribute any observable effect. Such additional factors don't add anything useful to the hypothesis and so you gain nothing by selecting anything other than the simplest version of the hypothesis. If the universe will exist in exactly the same observable way whether your deity exists or doesn't, then the non-existence hypothesis is just as useful as the existence one and is simpler.

    All of that said, 'religious' people and atheists have a lot more in common than either will admit. Of the thousands of religions that humans have created, 'religious' people disbelieve all except for one, atheists disbelieve one. I've yet to meet a Christian who can give an objective argument as to why Hinduism (for example) is false, but Christianity is not. If you're willing to believe that all except one religion is false, what makes the remaining one special?

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  • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Thursday February 08 2018, @10:36AM (9 children)

    by NotSanguine (285) <NotSanguineNO@SPAMSoylentNews.Org> on Thursday February 08 2018, @10:36AM (#634810) Homepage Journal

    All of that said, 'religious' people and atheists have a lot more in common than either will admit. Of the thousands of religions that humans have created, 'religious' people disbelieve all except for one, atheists disbelieve all. I've yet to meet a Christian who can give an objective argument as to why Hinduism (for example) is false, but Christianity is not. If you're willing to believe that all except one religion is false, what makes the remaining one special?

    There. FTFY.

    I agree with your thesis that those with religion and those without have much more in common than the ways that they differ. They are human. They have beliefs and ideas that, just as a matter of simple human decency, should be respected.

    As an atheist, I reject theism [wikipedia.org] in *any* form. What's more, as an empiricist, I reject the supernatural [wikipedia.org] as well.

    That said, I have no axe to grind with those who do not share my particular (rejection) of belief. Much to the contrary, in fact. I respect that others believe differently than I do, and I have no interest in swaying those people to my way of thinking or belittling them as individuals.

    I believe in freedom of expression for everyone -- including myself. As such, I make no secret of my rejection of theist ideas and beliefs and will happily explain myself. Others are free to agree, disagree or take any position they like WRT my beliefs and expression.

    However, I will squawk loudly if, and when, others attempt to proselytize to me or, even worse, attempt to force me to accept their beliefs as my own.

    Given that I reject the supernatural and science has pretty much proven that anything "supernatural" is just a bunch of hokey mumbo-jumbo, coupled with the fact that pretty much every religion (regardless of their practices, no matter how noble or ignoble, ethical or unethical) relies on the supernatural to define the core of their belief, I have no other choice but to identify those belief systems as demonstrably false.

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    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday February 08 2018, @01:55PM (8 children)

      Exactly on the money, yo. Saying "I believe X is true" is worlds of different from saying "X is true". This was my entire point above.

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      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @03:23PM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @03:23PM (#634948)

        In my experience, and yours may vary, the vast majority of religious people I have met equate "I believe in God" to "God exists", and "I believe in this tenet of my religion" means that "others must be forced to abide by it".

        I don't buy that religious freedom trumps all others, because there are always conflicts between the different freedoms we are granted and religions, being based on nothing real, can be created out of nothing with whatever set of beliefs one wants to have.

        As far as what anyone believes, that's fine by me, I don't care, I don't object, I'm not looking to never see an indication of religion in the world. I do object to people trying to force their religious beliefs upon others, especially via force of government.

        If gay marriage if against your religion, don't marry a person of the same sex. If abortion is against your religion, don't get one, and don't insist that government $ can't be spent on one for someone else if you allow government $ to be spent on other medical procedures. But don't force your beliefs on others. If you want to have a business but want to not serve some part of the public due to religious beliefs, find another way to make a living.

        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:07PM (5 children)

          I agree about not pushing religion into law. I simply also believe that atheism should not be pushed into law either. Let everyone act as their conscience and belief system dictates as long as it does not actually and directly harm anyone else.

          Also, I don't want us to go off on a long tangent here but think about how you would respond to an atheist who believes (most) abortions should be illegal. You're talking to one right now.

          --
          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:30PM (4 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:30PM (#635097)

            I would basically ignore them, as in my experience they represent a miniscule portion of those who would limit it.

            • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday February 08 2018, @07:31PM (3 children)

              Yeah, most people aren't open to rational debate on abortion. You're fairly common in that.

              --
              My rights don't end where your fear begins.
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @08:28PM (2 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @08:28PM (#635175)

                I don't find your position rational. I'm fairly common in that regard. That actually goes for virtually all positions I've ever read from you.

                • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday February 08 2018, @11:08PM (1 child)

                  Then I'm afraid you don't know what rational means. Here's this to get you started: try legitimately questioning why you believe the things you believe. Advanced study: try listening and understanding when others explain why they believe the things they believe.

                  --
                  My rights don't end where your fear begins.
                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 09 2018, @02:10AM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 09 2018, @02:10AM (#635353)

                    LOL. I'm well aware of what rational means, and you don't fit the bill. Your belief that you are right isn't an explanation, regardless of how heartfelt.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 09 2018, @10:45PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 09 2018, @10:45PM (#635753)

        And your problem is you fail to include the word "believe" in your assertions, stating things as true when there is no evidence to back up the assertion.