Welcome to the Church of Humanism Blog
Here, as often as possible, church members will comment on relevant topics of the day. You are all welcome to join in on the conversation by emailing your thoughts and opinions to the email address shown below. We look forward to hearing from you.
Is Religious Orthodoxy on the Attack?
Recently the Attorney General of the United States, William Barr, gave a speech to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame on religious liberty in America. I believe Mr. Barr’s speech is meant to rally Judo-Christian believers to attack non-believers in order to maintain the religious ground this antiquated religion still occupies. His remarks are inciting further tensions and division within an already divided nation.
In his speech Mr. Barr attributes many of today’s social ills to non-believers, i.e., those who do not believe in the Judeo-Christian religion. He calls them secularist. He makes numerous assertions about how secularists are ruining today’s culture. To read the full text of his speech click on reference 1 below. Here are some of Mr. Barr’s bizarre assertions.
- He asserts only “self-discipline and the virtue of the American people”1 will limit what he calls government’s “coercive power”1. He proclaims self-discipline and virtue of the American people stem from “inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values” which come from a “transcendent Supreme Being”1. He further asserts the framers saw free government as only suitable and sustainable for religious people. By religious people I I’m presuming he means those who believe in the Judeo-Christian religion. “In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.”1. As Attorney General isn’t Mr. Barr supposed to uphold the United States Constitution? Doesn’t the First Amendment explicitly state “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”? So how can Mr. Barr make such an assertion putting religion above the constitution? Doesn’t the first amendment imply that the government must observe a separation between church and state? Certainly, everyone is empowered to pursue their own beliefs including a non-Judeo-Christian belief. Mr. Barr’s assertions falsely establish the premise that secularists are to blame for all of today’s cultural ills. He implies that they lack self-discipline, virtues and moral values, because they do not believe in a transcendent Supreme Being. Again, I think this is all meant to incite Judeo-Christians to fight the non-believers.
- He asserts “religion helps promote moral discipline within Society”1; Christian moral standards come from God and anyone who dismisses these beliefs are “modern secularists”1. This is meant to reinforce the notion that non-believers (secularists) lack moral values.
- He asserts we are living in a post Christian era and he questions what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system. “We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?”1 He concludes, by asserting “no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion”1. He is positing that secularism has no moral equivalence to that of the Judeo-Christian moral code, and any actions undertaken by so-called secularist are damaging society. These are some of the actions he highlights;
- "The reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion"1.
- "The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites"1.
- "The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and ersatz father to their children"1.
Regarding illegitimacy, sexual responsibility and abortion, Judeo-Christians would promote sexual abstinence and eliminate abortion. Violators would be forced into a life of hardship with unwanted children. The right to choose would be gone. Mothers unable to care for their children, would be forced to give them up to either foster care or put them up for adoption. In other words, personal responsibility means, suffer the consequences of your actions. No one is there to help you through this difficult time.
Regarding drug addition, Judeo-Christians believe the solution to this issue is for the addict to take personal responsibility and work to overcome this difficulty on his/her own. Possibly look to their church and god for strength and guidance. Treating this as a health issue and using the government to seek assistance is not an option. The government of the people for the people is not there for them. Lastly regarding the breakdown of the family, the Judeo-Christian religion believes families should only consist of men and women as a couple. Any deviation is abhorrent to them. If anyone doesn’t abide by this belief, they are not following Judeo-Christian family values and will be ostracized. Does any of this seem Christian like? To me these Judeo-Christian alternatives lack love and compassion.
Read more of Mr. Barr’s extraordinarily “unchristian” like remarks and views within his speech (see reference 1 below).
With all this said Mr. Barr is correct when he states there is a changing religious landscape in America. Recently a study by the Pew Research Center found that “the religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009“2. The study further states “Catholic losses have been most pronounced in the Northeast, where 36% identified as Catholic in 2009, compared with 27% today. Among Protestants, declines were larger in the South, where Protestants now account for 53% of the adult population, down from 64% in 2009”.2 To read the entire study click on reference 2 below.
The question is why a decline or more accurately why a change. Is it because more Americans are better informed and knowledgeable thereby realizing that Judeo-Christian religious beliefs are no longer relevant to them? Have they outgrown the traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs? In Julian Huxley's book Religion Without Revelation (see reference 3 below) he states. “No one expects a child of four to have the same kind of religious life as a boy of sixteen, or either of them as a man of thirty.”3 (Pp.21) He also states “Men will cease to be able to regard religion as a patent medicine of the spirit, but will be forced to see it for what it is, an art to be learnt. It is an art of spiritual health. They will be able to acknowledge the obvious fact that sanctity properly pertains to certain ideas and to certain basic human relations, and that it may come to lodge, through the accident of association, in particular places and events and things, without being thereby called upon to admit that a God exists in or behind the thing or idea, or has given supernatural sanction to the human relation.”3 (Pp. 34)
Mr. Barr asserts this change in religious landscape is because secularist have “marshalled all the forces of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values”1. Contrary to Mr. Barr's assertion, I whole-heartedly believe we have become more knowledgeable and mature in our understanding of the world around us and as a result our Judeo-Christian religious beliefs are continually changing. It doesn’t mean we’ve lost our moral compass it means we are no longer in need of the rules and traditions previously taught to us. Also, it doesn’t mean religion is thrown out, discarded. Religion need not only be defined as a Judeo-Christian religion. There are other ways to be religious/ have religion that is relevant and not based on a non-existing entity. I refer you to Reverend Joseph Ben-David (reference 4 below) on his thesis THE NEXT STEP IN THEOLOGICAL REALISM – The Humanist Unitarian Meaning of God. Rev. Ben-David posits that one can be religious and believe in god that is based on truth and reality. “God, as the creative process in nature, is an awesome, all-inclusive phenomenon. It encompasses everything that helps to transform a state of aggressive, chaotic wilderness into an environment of freedom, justice and peace. People of conscience, who are intellectually and emotionally aware, fuse their lives with this process and become creative themselves. They become God’s allies and coworkers by dedicating their lives to the actualization of ideal reality….This applies to all creative pioneers who serve to advance social justice, accomplish important scientific work or who bring people in touch with reality through the arts, particularly literature, painting, drama, music, poetry, etc. To see oneself as part of the creative process is the greatest experience one can have. The conscious attachment to God – to the highest good – will fill a person with a profound sense of purposefulness and gratification. Regardless of the religious or secular terminology they use, these people of the spirit are helping to advance philosophy, psychology and religion.”4
The Pew Research Center study only stated that there has been a decline/ change in religious participation it doesn’t explore what Americans think of religion and what is their view about how one lives one’s life. A study exploring these aspects about Americans and religion might give us a very different perspective about the changing landscape of religion. Lastly, we must call out Mr. Barr’s false and un-Christian like statements about the changing landscape of religion or what he calls religious liberty to rile up Judeo-Christians. Join me in raising our voices for religious freedom and not allow religious Orthodoxy to further divide us as a nation and as human beings. We must find ways to be united not divided. I welcome your feedback. E-mail me at
- https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-remarks-law-school-and-de-nicola-center-ethics. Speaker Attorney General William Barr October 11th 2019.
- https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/. October 17th 2019.
- Julian Huxley Religion without Revelation, Published as a Mentor book by arrangement with Harper & Brothers. Also, Mentor books are published by the New American Library of world Literature, Inc. 1957.
- THE NEXT STEP IN THEOLOGICAL REALISM – The Humanist Unitarian Meaning of God. By the Reverend Joseph Abraham Ben-David, Founder and Senior Minister, The Church of Humanism, USA Dean, The Humanist Theological Seminary Minister Emeritus, Religious Society of Czech Unitarians, Czech Republic, September 2019
Climate Crisis Rally
On Friday, September 20th, I attended the Climate Crisis rally in lower Manhattan. This rally was one of many held throughout the world. I was encouraged to see so many people, especially young people, at the rally. We all were voicing our concerns about the state of our world’s climate and the limited time we have to fix it. This climate crisis is especially concerning for our young people and their future children. If nothing is done, they will have to deal with the worsening ramifications of climate disruptions compared to what we are experiencing today, such as severe and unusual storms, raising sea levels, forest fires, melting ice caps, etc.
I thought I would share some of my photos I took while at the rally.
As you can see from the photos of the rally there is serious concern. We all need to join in and raise our voices so our political leaders hear us. The time to do something is now! Our leaders need to enact regulations to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Also, as individuals, we each need to look at our own carbon footprint and make the necessary changes to significantly reduce it. Lastly, I hope you will write your representatives and let them know you are watching them and expect them to take the needed actions on this matter. This is not the time for partisan fighting.
As usual, I welcome your feedback. Email me at
Sounding The Alarm
Over the last 20 years we’ve experienced tremendous technological advances. We’ve seen computers transformed from large corporate computational equipment to more personal tools. They’ve changed from desktop devices, to laptops, to handhelds, such as tablets and smartphones. The most important technological change was the introduction of the internet. It made it possible for us to use these devices anywhere and at any time. Throughout these advances we’ve changed along with them. Now we do business online (over the internet) and use these advanced tools to communicate with each other (social networking). We are able to get information quicker and in greater abundance. For the most part these changes have been good (convenience and more information) but I don’t think many of us have considered at what cost or to what degree these changes are shaping our lives. Some have become completely dependent on tablets and smartphones. We walk around transfixed with these devices ignoring what is going on around us. We use them to record our daily lives, to communicate with our friends and family, to purchase merchandise and to stay current on the news of the day.
As a retired Information technology (IT) professional I want to sound the alarm that our dependency on these technologies is having unintended consequences on us. In particular, these underlying tools that operate these devices (big data and algorithms) are being used in an underhanded way by governments and corporations to control our thinking and our behavior to bring about hate and fear within us.
You have all heard how Facebook was used to sow division and help elect Donald Trump. It has been all over the news for the last few years. Last year there was a report about how a British company, Cambridge Analytica, harvested more than 50 million Facebook profiles to create targeted messages to Facebook users, they called "persuadables". The intent was to generate hate and fear so that these potential voters would lean towards Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Recently there was a documentary on Netflix called the Great Hack that showed how the Brexit campaign over 2 years ago was the Petri dish for what was to come during the American 2016 presidential election. Check out the reference 6 below. It is a TED talk by Carole Cadwalladr regarding Facebook’s role in the leave campaign that influenced the Brexit vote. Carole was a main participant in the above Netflix documentary.
We have to wonder what else is going on! Governments and corporations such as the US, China, Russia, Facebook and Google, to name a few, collect information about us. It’s called “Big data”. According to the article Life in a Quantified Society, reference 5 below the definition of big data is “information about individuals and groups that has been extracted from larger data sets by a variety of analytical techniques. These data sets are collected by public and private actors from sources that play a big part in our lives today: social media, credit scores, online search histories, phone apps, consumer loyalty clubs, online purchase histories, and even the products you own, such as a car that tracks your driving habits or a mattress that collects data on your body temperature and sleep movement—these personal items collectively make up what is known as the “internet of things.” Algorithms utilize this data. These algorithms “process large volumes of data to make split-second decisions about who we are, what we want, what we do, and what we might do in the future. Algorithms are generally proprietary in nature and therefore secret. This type of automated decision making was introduced into financial systems in the 1990s through high-frequency trading and is now used in ways that affect the lives of more and more people.”5 I think it’s obvious we have to question how governments and corporations are using what they are learning about us. The article Cambridge Analytica and online manipulation, reference 3 below, states “that not just Cambridge Analytica, but most of the current online ecosystem, is an arm’s race to the unconscious mind: notifications, microtargeted ads, autoplay plugins, are all strategies designed to induce addictive behavior, hence to manipulate.“ This article also stated “In today’s digital ecosystem, wannabe demagogues can use big data analytics to uncover cognitive vulnerabilities from large user datasets and effectively exploit them in a manner that bypasses individual rational control. For example, machine learning can be used to identify deep-rooted fears among pre-profiled user groups which social-media bots can subsequently exploit to foment anger and intolerance.”
I know this is not something we think much about, up until now I certainly hadn’t. Should we be concerned? Are we forfeiting control of our lives (what we think, how we feel, and how we behave) because of the conveniences these technological devices provide? To take back control we need to come up with mechanisms to protect ourselves and hold governments and corporations accountable. As an example, this year the European Union (EU) “recently adopted EU General Data Protection Regulation, with its principle of purpose limitation (data collectors are required to specify the purpose of collecting personal information at the time of collection) is likely to partly defuse the current toxic digital environment.”3 We need to see the data collected on us and have the ability to opt out (remove the already collected data and prevent any further collection). And when registering onto an online service or social media platform such as Facebook, Google, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. we need to know their data policy, read the terms of service and make sure we have the ability to rescind any acceptance at any time. In essence we need to know our privacy related options. As stated in Cambridge Analytica and online manipulation, reference 3 below,“we need to consider whether we should set for the digital space a firm threshold for cognitive liberty. Cognitive liberty highlights the freedom to control one’s own cognitive dimension (including preferences, choices and beliefs) and to be protected from manipulative strategies that are designed to bypass one’s cognitive defenses.“
I welcome everyone’s feedback. E-mail me at
- BIG-DATA ALGORITHMS ARE MANIPULATING US ALL CATHAY O’NEIL BUSINESShttps://www.wired.com/2016/10/big-data-algorithms-manipulating-us/?mbid=email_onsiteshare
- Don’t Confuse Persuasion and Manipulation – Your Customers Won’t Like It March 27,2018 https://zoovu.com/blog/persuasion-vs-manipulation/
- Cambridge Analytica and Online Manipulation By Marcello Ienca, Effy Vayena on March 30, 2018 https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/cambridge-analytica-and-online-manipulation/?WT.mc_id=send-to-friend
- What Netflix’s ‘Great Hack’ Gets Wrong About Cambridge Analytica By Micah L. Sifry August 6 2019 https://www.thenation.com/article/cambridge-analytica-facebook-hack/
- Life in a Quantified Society Open Society Foundation May 2019 https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/explainers/life-quantified-society
- Facebook’s role in Brexit – and the threat to Democracy Carole Cadwalladr TED April 2019 https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy
- Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age BY LEE RAINIE AND JANNA ANDERSON https://www.pewinternet.org/2017/02/08/code-dependent-pros-and-cons-of-the-algorithm-age/
This month I'm presenting a three part investigative report, called “To Protect and Slur,” on individual police officers who have joined and participate in various Facebook extremist hate groups, Islamophobia groups and militia groups such as The White Privilege Club, Ban The NAACP, DEATH TO ISLAM UNDERCOVER, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters to name a few. This exposé, written by Will Carless and Michael Corey, staff reporters at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, was published in June at www.revealnews.org, their official website. Below are the links to the three parts of the report:
Part one: Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia
Part two: The American militia movement, a breeding ground for hate, is pulling in cops on Facebook
Part three: American cops have openly engaged in Islamophobia on Facebook, with no penalties
The overwhelming point I took from these reports is; “How can these police officers, hired to protect and serve their communities regardless of race, ethnicity or religious beliefs, do their jobs without bias?” Where is their allegiance? Obviously these police officers reflect the mood and views of many Americans in this country today. What's most concerning to me is, these police officers have deadly force training and will not hesitate to use it, if called upon. Will they use it to protect all individuals or just the ones that have beliefs similar to their own? I'm also very concerned that these groups are setting the stage for another bloody civil war in this country. We especially need to voice our concerns to this possibility and find a way to stop this self-destructive course.
Most of our elected politicians are failing us. They are too caught up in their own self-righteous rhetoric. It is up to us as individuals to begin talking with each other, not past each other. We must look beyond our differences and work together on ideas that improve everyone’s well-being and provide opportunities for growth and happiness. I believe this will force our elected officials to work together and implement what their constituents "all of us" want.
I’m hoping presenting this investigative report and stating my concerns and views will motivate you to also voice your concerns and act to prevent the eruption of another bloody civil war. I welcome everyone’s feedback. E-mail me at
When will we say enough is enough? When will we wake up and realize that guns are not a right but a menace? Why are our lawmakers failing us? Have we become numb to all this gun violence?
The Gun Law Navigator, an online tool created by Everytown for Gun Safety, reflects their state-by-state surveys of modern gun laws since 1991. Everytown’sOverview of State Gun Laws (click on this link) presents an interactive chart of different types of key gun laws, and shows which have been adopted by which states. In all there are 67 key gun laws that all states could put in place. As you review and interact with the chart you will be shocked to see how few of these laws some states have adopted. For example, there are nine (9) states with ten (10) or fewer key gun laws on the books in their state. These are: South Dakota (4 key laws), Kentucky, Mississippi, and Wyoming (5 key laws), Idaho, New Hampshire (6 key laws), Alaska (7 key laws), Missouri (8 key laws) and Montana (10 key laws). Eight (8) states have implemented between 11 and 20 of the 67 laws. Seventeen (17) states have implemented between 21 and 30. The remaining states have more than 30 of them in place, including two (2) states (Hawaii and Illinois) that have 59 of the 67 laws implemented.
As a New Yorker I am glad that our lawmakers have passed a high number of the key gun laws (55 key gun laws). I think, however, New York can still do better. As an example, why haven’t we passed a law that requires law enforcement to remove firearms from a domestic violence scene? It seems to me such a law would eliminate a potential escalation of violence that could lead to someone getting shot and killed. This law is on the books in 12 states. I hope New York becomes the 13th state to pass such a law.
Of course, having all 67 key gun laws adopted by every state will not likely eliminate all gun violence, but I believe they can and will dramatically reduce gun violence. Also, I am sure our lawmakers can adopt additional laws to further reduce gun violence in our country. It is a matter of having the will to get it done! Needless to say, we need change NOW. The power that the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyists have over our lawmakers to prevent change is appalling! This too must change NOW.
The Brady group (named for gunshot victim Jim Brady), offers us frightening gun violence statistics at Key Gun Violence Statistics. I am horrified, sad, and disgusted when I see and hear news reports about another mass killing. I often say to myself, will this ever end? I am sure everyone feels as I do when they hear about these tragic events. Sadly, these feelings are fleeting and short lived. We all fall back into our daily lives. Also, I’m certain we don’t want to hear about all of the daily gun violence that is not widely reported. If everyone realized the toll that gun violence is wreaking on American lives, we would be further driven back. This Brady web site link presents horrific statistics about what is occurring in our country on a daily basis. How can we accept that in this country 310 people on average are shot every day, of which a hundred die? And how can we accept that these shootings include 27 children on average daily, of which eight are instances of ‘family fire’ – i.e., shootings that involve an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home. Why do we keep fooling ourselves that guns are not the issue? If guns were harder to get, I am sure these statistics would be much different.
How are we faring relative to other so-called developed countries? At Everytown for Gun Safety’s web page on A Nation of Survivors: The Toll of Gun Violence in America, we find the answer in this chart:
The U.S. Gun Death Rate is 10 Times That of Other High-Income Countries.
To me, this is a sign that, as a society, we’ve become numb to gun violence and accept it as normal. Until and unless we realize that we have the power to change it, all will remain the same. Unacceptable numbers of people will get shot daily; many will die; mass shootings will occur regularly; etc., etc. Nothing will change. We will continue to hear about gun violence, feel horrible and be disgusted, and then immediately turn and go about our daily lives in this numb state.
I don’t know what the way out of this craziness is, but I hope the above will spark some discussion and get us to act. I welcome everyone’s feedback. E-mail me at