Would the world be better off without religion?
That provocative question was the subject of a Nov. 15 Oxford-style debate moderated by ABC News’ John Donvan. A journalist, screenwriter and director, Matthew Chapman, and A.C. Grayling, a British philosopher and professor, argued in favor of a world without religion. They were balanced by Dinesh D’Souza, president of The King’s College, and David Wolpe, the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
Perhaps the most interesting facet of this story came prior to the debate, when the audience at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts voted 52 percent in favor of a world without religion and 26 percent against, with 22 percent undecided.
Afterward, 59 percent of the audience agreed the world would be better off without religion, while 31 percent disagreed — making the side arguing for the motion the winners of the debate. Ten percent of the audience remained undecided.
I’m not touching that one…
One more interesting and related tidbit showed up in my inbox last week.
This comes via the American Humanist Association, which announced the launch of their holiday advertisement campaign aimed to raise awareness of discrimination against nonbelievers in America.
The billboards and full-page newspaper ads contain the message, “Bias Against Atheists is Naughty, Not Nice,” and features Santa Claus making up his “naughty” list. The ads are placed in cities across the United States where atheists have experienced discrimination due to their lack of belief in a traditional god.
“Nonbelievers in America continue to be the object of discrimination,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “We hope this campaign will spur a conversation about this problem that moves us in a positive direction.”
Speckhardt continued, “Many humanists and atheists in America experience hatred in their own communities when simply standing up for the separation of church and state, or fighting for other rights that should be afforded without question.”
For example, the AHA placed an ad in the Cranston Herald newspaper because a high school student, Jessica Ahlquist, endured harassment and threats—one even called her a “stupid atheist” — for objecting to the display of a religious prayer banner hanging in her public high school auditorium.
Is religion once again under attack?