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Michael De Dora

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Michael De Dora is director of the Center for Inquiry's Office of Public Policy and the organization's representative to the United Nations. In addition, he serves as president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Announcing My Resignation

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 5, 2017

After nearly a decade of volunteering and working for the Center for Inquiry, I am leaving the organization on June 7. 

Pakistan’s Hypocrisy on Freedom of Religion and Belief

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 6, 2017
Pakistan’s Hypocrisy on Freedom of Religion and Belief

At the UN Human Rights Council, Pakistan lamented an “increase in religiously motivated crimes” and said “states have the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its people.” They conveniently forgot to mention their own record of promoting or tolerating intolerance, and stamping out any form of dissent.

Atheism and Muslim Countries: A Conversation with the Moroccan Atheist Kacem El Ghazzali

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 6, 2017
Atheism and Muslim Countries: A Conversation with the Moroccan Atheist Kacem El Ghazzali

An English translation of Stefano Bigliardi’s interview of Kacem El Ghazzali for the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics in Italy. 

What Secretary Kerry Should Tell Bangladesh Officials

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 29, 2016
What Secretary Kerry Should Tell Bangladesh Officials

For many months now, Bangladesh has been roiled by grisly murders in its streets, terrorist attacks, and severe political unrest. This is the situation Secretary of State John Kerry will be walking into when he visits the country today to meet with high-ranking government officials and civil society leaders. How can he best take advantage of this opportunity?

The Work of CFI’s Office of Public Policy and Legal Department

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 8, 2016

Threats to fundamental human rights can take horrific and immediate forms, such as the campaigns of terror and murder by groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS. At the same time, human rights are also challenged, and often entirely erased, in ways that do not necessarily make the top of the evening news — and yet require a passionate and persistent response, and demand our fullest attention and energy.

 

Homeopathy ‘Unsupported, Ineffective, Dangerous’: CFI Testimony to FDA

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.4, July/August 2015

Commentary
Homeopathy ‘Unsupported, Ineffective, Dangerous’: CFI Testimony to FDA

The full text of invited testimony by the Center for Inquiry at the April 20, 2015, hearing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on “Homeopathic Product Regulation: Evaluating the FDA’s Regulatory Framework After a Quarter-Century.”

Timeline of Attacks on Bloggers, Writers, Publishers, and Activists in Bangladesh

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 12, 2015
Sadly, recent attacks on bloggers, writers, publishers, and activists in Bangladesh are not new — they are simply the continuance of a pattern.  

Inside Look: UN Human Rights Council Resolutions on Freedom of Religion, Belief, and Expression

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 26, 2015

Over the next two days, the United Nations Human Rights Council will close its 28th regular session with a flurry of votes, including on two resolutions related to freedom of religion, belief, and expression. For as much as these resolutions spur debate within the halls of the UN, they are far less contentious — indeed, far less known — to the general public. Fortunately, I just spent two weeks at the HRC representing the Center for Inquiry, and was involved in the conversations surrounding these resolutions. This gives me a great opportunity to provide you with an update on these resolutions.

Avijit Roy and His Legacy: Guest Post by Jahed Ahmed

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 12, 2015
Avijit Roy and His Legacy: Guest Post by Jahed Ahmed

Thanks to the Internet, Avijit Roy is now more famous than ever. Several Islamic zealots, who also brutally assaulted his wife, killed him outside a book fair on the streets of Dhaka. Yet these fanatics have achieved the opposite of what they ultimately wished for: obliterating Avijit forever. Now, Avijit will leave a lasting legacy.

Confronting State-Sanctioned Religious Violence: A Statement to the UN Human Rights Council

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 11, 2015
On Monday, March 9, I arrived in Geneva, Switzerland to represent the Center for Inquiry at the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is ongoing through March 27. Spread out over the past two days, March 10 and 11, the Council has hosted an Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, on his latest annual report, "preventing violence committed in the name of religion."

On Placing Blame for the Chapel Hill Killings

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 13, 2015
I am as disturbed by atheists who have been quick to blame the Chapel Hill murders on nothing more than a parking dispute as I am by people who are already tracing Craig Hicks' crime back to the strident but non-violent rhetoric of prominent New Atheists. 

A Mix of Wins and Losses in the 2014 Midterm Elections

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 5, 2014

The Republican Party has won control of the United States Senate, giving Republicans control of both chambers of Congress next year. Yet, as important as this shift is, it is not the complete story on yesterday’s elections. In fact, you might be heartened to learn of some lesser-known results. To help fill you in, here's a brief summary of noteworthy results for the secular, skeptic, and humanist communities.

Raif Badawi, Appeal Denied, Will Soon Face Brutal Punishment for Blasphemy - UPDATED

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 4, 2014
Saudi Arabia's appeals court in Mecca has confirmed the sentence of human rights activist Raif Badawi, 30, to ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a one million riyal fine (USD $266,631). We must raise our voices to end the brutality.

Obama Set to Bar Discrimination Against LGBT Workers, Without a Religious Exemption

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 18, 2014
Obama Set to Bar Discrimination Against LGBT Workers, Without a Religious Exemption

On Monday, President Barack Obama will sign an executive order that will bar federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, according to news outlets. And, in a major win for advocates of secular government, the order will reportedly not include an exemption for religious organizations.

Why CFI Is Suspending Its Support for ENDA

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 11, 2014

After the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Center for Inquiry has decided to suspend its support for ENDA until the bill's religious exemption is either greatly narrowed or scrapped altogether.

Saudi Rights Activist Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 8, 2014
Saudi Rights Activist Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
Waleed Abu al-Khair was sentenced to 15 years in prison, a 15-year travel ban after his release, and fined 200,000 riyals for "inciting public opinion against the government" and "insulting the country's leaders and judiciary."

Saudi Arabia Tries to Stop Center for Inquiry From Delivering Statement at Human Rights Council

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 23, 2014
Saudi Arabia Tries to Stop Center for Inquiry From Delivering Statement at Human Rights Council

This morning at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Saudi Arabia tried three times to stop the Center for Inquiry (CFI) from delivering a statement criticizing the country for its human rights violations. Ultimately, their efforts failed, and CFI was allowed to speak. 

Raif Badawi sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 7, 2014
Raif Badawi sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam

Raif Badawi, founder of the website Liberal Saudi Network, has been sentenced to ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and fined one million riyal (USD $266,631) for insulting Islam. 

Alexander Aan released from prison

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 31, 2014
Alexander Aan released from prison

Yes, the news reports are accurate: Alexander Aan, a former Indonesian civil servant jailed for expressing his lack of belief in a God on Facebook, was released from prison January 27 after serving 18 months of a 30-month sentence. 


International Blasphemy Rights Day: An Interview With Persecuted Atheists

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 30, 2013
International Blasphemy Rights Day: An Interview With Persecuted Atheists

The Center for Inquiry will mark International Blasphemy Rights Day on Monday, September 30, part by hosting an online discussion with Alber Saber and Kacem El-Ghazzali, both of whom have been forced to leave their home countries over blasphemy charges.

Ban on “Pulpit Politicking” Protects Taxpayers, Religious Believers

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 14, 2013

Religious leaders today released a new report that calls for an end to the ban on tax-exempt organizations, such as houses of worship and nonprofit groups, engaging in partisan political activities. But, despite what its opponents claim, the ban is based on sound reasoning.

Why the Obama Administration is Wrong About Legislative Prayer

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 9, 2013

The Obama administration has filed an amicus brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway, claiming that prayers before legislative meetings are and should remain legal.

Center for Inquiry Mixed on Finalized Birth Control Rule

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 1, 2013
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday issued a finalized birth control rule, which requires all employers — apart from houses of worship and religiously affiliated organizations — to provide employees contraceptive coverage without charging a co-payment. The announcement marks the end of a nearly two-year regulatory battle between HHS officials and advocacy groups, including the Center for Inquiry (CFI).

On mission drift, and the gap between theory and practice

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 9, 2013

Some thoughts on Greta Christina's recent blog post discussing the issue of whether it would be "mission drift" for atheist and skeptic organizations to engage in social justice activism.


No Flag Large Enough to Cover the Shame - Guest Post from Dr. Avijit Roy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 1, 2013

On May 2, CFI and other organizations will take part in protests around the world against the persecution of atheist bloggers and other dissidents in Bangladesh.  

Dr. Avijit Roy is a Bangladeshi writer perhaps best known for founding Mukto-Mona.com, a website for freethinkers of Bengali and South Asian descent. Over the past several weeks he has been an extremely important contact for the Center for Inquiry, providing us with critical updates regarding the situation in Bangladesh, and connecting us with people in Bangladesh who are in need of assistance. The following is a guest post from Dr. Roy, originally posted at his blog.

Marriage equality and religious freedom are compatible

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 27, 2013
Marriage equality and religious freedom are compatible

A brief response to Erick Erickson, who claims that marriage equality is incompatible with religious freedom. 

 

 

Senate Rejects School Voucher Amendment

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 25, 2013
In gearing up for a final vote on the 2014 Budget Resolution, U.S. Senate this past weekend conducted a 13-hour voting session -- commonly referred to as "vote-a-rama" -- during which it rejected a school voucher amendment. 

The UN’s Silence on Discrimination and Violence Against Non-Believers

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 18, 2013
Dr. Elizabeth O'Casey, CFI's representative at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, reports that the European Union has rejected an attempt to include non-religious persons in a resolution on freedom of religion or belief.

Secularists Should Welcome Church-State Expert As New Head of Faith-Based Office

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 13, 2013
Secularists Should Welcome Church-State Expert As New Head of Faith-Based Office
In a move that should draw praise from secularists, the White House confirmed today that it would appoint Melissa Rogers as the new director of the federal Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Rogers will replace Joshua DuBois, who stepped down last month.

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Bars Federally Funded Religious Discrimination

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 4, 2013

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which Congress approved last week, includes important language which prevents groups that receive federal funds from discriminating based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or gender identity. 

 

Why CFI Opposed H.R. 592

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 13, 2013
Why CFI Opposed H.R. 592
Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would allow taxpayer money to go towards the rebuilding of houses of worship. Here's why the Center for Inquiry (CFI) opposed this measure.

Center for Inquiry Concerned With New Accommodations on Birth Control Rule

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 1, 2013

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the birth control rule that alters what HHS considers as a "religious employer," and clarifies how coverage should be set up for employees of organizations that are exempt from the rule.

 

UN Approves Landmark Measure Calling for Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 2, 2013
UN Approves Landmark Measure Calling for Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation

In a move welcomed by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the United Nations General Assembly has adopted by consensus its first-ever text caling for a global end to female genital mutilation. 


Disgraceful Reactions to a Tragedy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 14, 2012
Disgraceful Reactions to a Tragedy
Religious figures  Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee react to the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut by blaming separation of church and state.

New Report Details Global Restrictions on Freedom of Belief and Expression

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 10, 2012
In recognition of Human Rights Day, the International Humanist and Ethical Union has released a report -- produced in collaboration with the Center for Inquiry, American Humanist Association, Secular Coalition for America, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason -- that details laws around the world which restrict the rights to freedom of belief and expression, and instances of nonreligious persons facing discrimination and persecution.

Secularists Break New Ground at United Nations

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 6, 2012
Secularists Break New Ground at United Nations

In late October, a delegation representing the secular advocacy groups International Humanist and Ethical Union and Center for Inquiry had a first-of-its-kind meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on discrimination against freethinkers around the world.  

Three Significant Developments for the Right to Freedom of Expression

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 3, 2012

The month of November included three significant and positive developments regarding the right to freedom of expression, which recently has come under such harsh attack that the Center for Inquiry has launched a Campaign for Free Expression


An Interview on CFI’s Office of Public Policy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 15, 2012
Recently I had the chance to speak with SkepChick blogger and Surly-Ramics creator Amy Davis Roth regarding the Center for Inquiry's Office of Public Policy and its wide-ranging advocacy efforts.

Islamic bloc abandons push for blasphemy ban at UN

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 18, 2012
Islamic bloc abandons push for blasphemy ban at UN

In important but underreported news, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has abandoned its push for a global ban on blasphemy at the United Nations.

Center for Inquiry Issues New Position Paper on School Vouchers

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 16, 2012

The Center for Inquiry's Office of Public Policy has released a new position paper critical of school voucher programs that divert taxpayer dollars from the public education system to private and religious schools. 

Some thoughts on the Nones

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 9, 2012
A couple thoughts on today's survey from the Pew Research Center that shows one in five Americans are unaffiliated with any religious tradition.

Secular Groups Release First Annual Report on Global Discrimination Against the Nonreligious

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 2, 2012

Five prominent secular groups -- the Center for Inquiry, American Humanist Association, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and the Secular Coalition for America -- release a 45-page collaborative report titled, "2012 Report on Discrimination against Atheists, Humanists, and the Nonreligious."

Secular Groups Meet with State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 21, 2012
Secular Groups Meet with State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom
Earlier this month, representatives from several secular organizations, including the Center for Inquiry, met with the U.S. Department of State's Office of International Religious Freedom in Washington D.C. to discuss the secular community and its views on religious freedom.

Alexander Aan is still in prison

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 16, 2012
Alexander Aan is still in prison

CFI's petition to the White House on behalf of jailed Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan closed today with 8,000 signatures, well short of the 25,000 necessary to secure an official response from the Obama administration. Yet while we fell short, we are resolved to keep working his case.

One week left to petition the White House to speak out for Alexander Aan

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 9, 2012
One week left to petition the White House to speak out for Alexander Aan
There is one week remaining on our petition to the White House to call upon the Indonesian government to respect the freedom and dignity of all its citizens and free Alexander Aan. 

CFI Joins Coalition in Condemning House Reps for Muslim Brotherhood Claims

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 26, 2012

The Center for Inquiry today joined 41 religious, secular, and civil rights groups in writing to members of the U.S. House of Representatives to express our disappointment over the lawmakers' allegations that several Muslim individuals who work with the American government might be trying to spread the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Five ways you can help Alexander Aan

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 14, 2012
Five ways you can help Alexander Aan
Five ways you can help Alexander Aan, the Indonesian man recently sentenced to two years and six months in prison for allegedly "disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility." 

Alexander Aan writes letter from Indonesian prison

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 14, 2012
Alexander Aan writes letter from Indonesian prison

Alexander Aan, the Indonesian civil servant sentenced to two years and six months in jail for "disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred and animosity," has reportedly penned a letter from his prison cell.

CFI Emphasizes Gender Equality at UN Conference

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 11, 2012
CFI Emphasizes Gender Equality at UN Conference

The Center for Inquiry last week submitted a statement at the United Nations Economic and Social Council 2012 High-Level Segment that emphasized the importance of granting women equal rights to fostering economic and social stability.


CFI, IHEU Deliver Joint Statement on Freedom of Expression at UN Human Rights Council

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 9, 2012
CFI, IHEU Deliver Joint Statement on Freedom of Expression at UN Human Rights Council

The Center for Inquiry and International Humanist and Ethical Union last week issued a joint statement during the 20th annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva that addressed the importance of protecting freedom of expression on the Internet.

D.C. Voucher Program Appears Funded Despite Widespread Opposition, Serious Flaws

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 28, 2012
CFI has been working the past couple weeks with the National Coalition for Public Education to urge members of Congress to reject any funding for a controversial voucher program that funnels taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, it seems our our concerns have gone ignored, and the program will receive new funding. 

CFI Tells Obama Administration to Stand Its Ground and Finalize Birth Control Rule

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 12, 2012

The Center for Inquiry today submitted formal comments urging the Department of Health and Human Services to make final a rule requiring health insurance providers and organizations providing health care plans to cover preventive health services, such as birth control and contraception, without charging a co-payment. But to make real impact, we need your help.

Religious belief and budget debates

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 30, 2012
Religious belief and budget debates
Recently there has been a prominent public debate between Congressional Republicans and religious figures over the new federal budget authored by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan. Unfortunately, once again, few people are stating the obvious: that it is completely inappropriate for a public policy debate to center on the religious reasons for or against a proposed law.

CFI, 22 Other Groups Urge Obama to Ban Anti-LGBT Discrimination by Federal Contractors

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 3, 2012
CFI, 22 Other Groups Urge Obama to Ban Anti-LGBT Discrimination by Federal Contractors
The Center for Inquiry today joined 22 faith and humanist groups in urging President Barack Obama to issue an executive order banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees of federal contractors.

My speech at the Unite Women rally

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 1, 2012
My speech at the Unite Women rally
I spoke this past weekend at the Unite Women rally in New York City, part of a nationwide effort to band together people against the recent attacks on women’s rights. Here is the text of my address.

The war on women

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 25, 2012
The war on women

There has been a wide range of legislative actions against women's rights, much of it from religious lawmakers, and it's about time we all worked together to fight back. The upcoming April 28 marches and rallies organized by Unite Women provide a good chance to do so -- but we can't stop there. 

On the death of Andrew Breitbart (and others)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 13, 2012
On the death of Andrew Breitbart (and others)

How we should feel when people who we believe have done great harm to society die? Some of my thoughts on the recent death of Andrew Breitbart, and others.

CFI to HHS: Don’t Force Insurers to Pay for Acupuncture

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 5, 2012
The Center for Inquiry today wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to reject lobbying efforts to require health insurance providers and organizations to cover acupuncture.

Most likely voters—even religious—want presidential debate on science

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 3, 2012

An overwhelming majority of likely voters want American presidential candidates to debate major science-related issues, and believe such a debate is more important than one on the candidates' faith and values, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by ScienceDebate.org.

UN Human Rights Council Again Adopts Resolution on Religious Intolerance Without Defamation Language

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 27, 2012
UN Human Rights Council Again Adopts Resolution on Religious Intolerance Without Defamation Language

The United Nations Human Rights Council for the second year in a row has adopted a resolution aimed at combating religious intolerance that does not include language referring to the harmful “defamation of religions" concept.

More Americans want less religion in political discourse

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 22, 2012
More Americans want less religion in political discourse

More Americans than not think political leaders are talking too much about their religious beliefs, according to a national survey released earlier this week. 

CFI, IHEU Issue Statement on Religious Tolerance at UN Human Rights Council

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 14, 2012
CFI, IHEU Issue Statement on Religious Tolerance at UN Human Rights Council
The Center for Inquiry and International Humanist and Ethical Union issue a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council urging Islamic states to protect basic human rights at home if they are truly concerned about religious tolerance.

The Evolution of Altruism and Social Intelligence

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 6, 2012

Video of CFI-New York City's recent panel discussion on altruism, decision making, and the evolution of human cognition, featuring prominent psychologists Laurie Santos (Yale) and Felix Warneken (Harvard).

Senate Rejects Blunt Amendment

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 1, 2012
The U.S. Senate has voted 51-48 to table a proposal by Sen. Roy Blunt that would have allowed employers and health insurance providers to exclude any coverage that they deem immoral or contrary to their religious beliefs.

Victory! Indiana House Kills Creationist Bill

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 23, 2012
Victory! Indiana House Kills Creationist Bill
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma has shelved a Senate-approved bill to allow public schools across the state to teach children the creation stories of various mainstream religions. 

CFI Issues Statement on New HHS Regulation

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 14, 2012

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is urging the Obama Administration not to retreat any further on the new HHS regulation, and expressing its concern about the Catholic lobby's influence on public policy. 

Indiana House Might Not Consider Creationist Bill

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 8, 2012
Lawmakers in the Indiana House of Representatives are signaling that they will not take up the creationist bill (SB 89) that passed the state Senate.

Indiana Senate OKs Amended, but Still Flawed, Creationist Bill

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 1, 2012

The Indiana Senate on Tuesday voted 28-22 in favor of an amended version of Senate Bill 89, which would allow public schools across the state to teach children the creation stories of various mainstream religions.

Indiana Senate Panel Approves Creationist Bill Despite Center for Inquiry’s Letter, Testimony

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 26, 2012
Indiana Senate Panel Approves Creationist Bill Despite Center for Inquiry’s Letter, Testimony

Despite CFI's best efforts, an Indiana Senate panel has approved a bill that would allow school boards to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.”

Poland fines pop music star for blasphemy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 23, 2012
Poland fines pop music star for blasphemy
Poland has fined Doda for stating in an interview that the Bible is full of "unbelievable tales" that are hard to accept because "it's hard to believe in something written down by someone drunk on wine and smoking some kind of herbs."

Center for Inquiry Urges Indiana Senators to Drop Creationist Bill

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 19, 2012
CFI has written to the ten members of the Indiana State Senate Committee on Education and Career Development urging them to withdraw or oppose a bill that would allow school boards and other authorized educational administrators "require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation."

Why skeptics should embrace political advocacy — and how they can do it

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 16, 2012
An essay form of the talk I gave at SkeptiCamp NYC 2011, on why skeptics should get more involved in the political process, and how they can do it.

Federal judge orders removal of prayer banner in Rhode Island high school

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 12, 2012
Federal judge orders removal of prayer banner in Rhode Island high school

The case was especially notable for the Center for Inquiry because it was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of CFI-On Campus volunteer high school coordinator, Jessica Ahlquist, and her father, Mark.

Personhood arguments fail, but fight for reproductive rights goes on

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 30, 2011
Proposals to change the legal definition of personhood to include fertilized human eggs are rightly doomed, but reproductive rights advocates should remain vigilant in defending and promoting access to safe, legal health care.

CFI Welcomes UN Resolution Excluding “Defamation of Religion” Language—But Again Remains Cautious

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 21, 2011
CFI Welcomes UN Resolution Excluding “Defamation of Religion” Language—But Again Remains Cautious

CFI is pleased to recognize that, for the first time in more than a decade, the UN's General Assembly has approved a resolution aimed at combating religious intolerance that does not include language referring to the harmful “defamation of religions" concept. Unfortunately, the new resolution has its shortcomings.

CFI Pushes Federal Agencies on Religious Discrimination

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 16, 2011

CFI has joined with dozens of religious, education, civil rights, and health organizations to write faith-based offices within federal departments and agencies to clarify how they handle the issue of hiring discrimination by religious organizations receiving federal grants and contracts.

Obama Adminstration Steps Up Defense of LGBT Rights Abroad

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 7, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defends equal rights for LGBT persons at UN, while President Obama directs all agencies engaged in diplomacy efforts to ensure U.S. is promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT persons.

Another pluralist approach to ethics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 1, 2011

Ian Pollock takes a stab at formulating a pluralist ethic.

The Science and Philosophy of Free Will

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 22, 2011
Video of CFI-New York City's recent panel discussion on how advances in cognitive science are shaping our philosophical conception of free wil.

Former climate denier to testify before Congress

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 14, 2011

Richard Muller, the physicist who formerly rejected climate science but changed his mind after leading a two-year study that confirmed its reality, will be among three scientists to present their work today.

Morality can — and should — be legislated

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 7, 2011

The overarching message of Ken Burns' new documentary, “Prohibition," is that morality cannot and should not be legislated. But this is simply not true.

Egyptian man sentenced to 3 years in jail for blasphemy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 24, 2011
A 23-year-old Egyptian man has been sentenced to three years in prison, with hard labor, for "insulting Islam" in postings on his Facebook wall.

Massimo Pigliucci on ethics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 18, 2011

Massimo Pigliucci, philosopher at the City University of New York, writes a series of seven essays discussing ethics on his blog Rationally Speaking.

The ethics of drone warfare

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 7, 2011
Is there, or should there be, an ethical distinction between launching missiles from half a world away and sending fighter jets to carry out such an attack?

Center for Inquiry Continues to Push President Obama on Federally Funded Discrimination

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 20, 2011
Center for Inquiry Continues to Push President Obama on Federally Funded Discrimination
A coalition of 56 organizations, including the Center for Inquiry, has written Obama asking him to stop allowing religious organizations to discriminate against federally funded employees on the basis of religion.

Egyptian man arrested for alleged blasphemy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 22, 2011
A 23-year-old Egyptian man has been arrested by Cairo police for allegedly "insulting Islam" in postings on his Facebook wall. 

School voucher bills swamp statehouses, face legal challenges

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 15, 2011
Statehouses across the U.S. this year have considered more bills than ever before to fund school voucher programs, though legal challenges await.

In defense of belief

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 8, 2011
In defense of belief

Many people in the so-called freethought movement strongly dislike the word "belief." I think this is mistaken. Here is why.

CFI Applauds UN Body’s Strong Support for Freedom of Belief and Expression – But Remains Cautious

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 3, 2011
CFI Applauds UN Body’s Strong Support for Freedom of Belief and Expression – But Remains Cautious

In a move welcomed by the Center for Inquiry, the UN Human Rights Committee has strongly condemned blasphemy laws and other restrictions on freedom of belief and expression as inconsistent with existing international law.

A win for evolution in Texas

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 25, 2011
The Texas Board of Education has unanimously approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers, and rejected creationist-backed supplements.

Thirty percent of Americans are Biblical literalists

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 23, 2011
Thirty percent of Americans are Biblical literalists
The number of Americans who believe the Bible is the literal word of God has declined eight points since 1977.

Record attacks on women’s reproductive rights

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 20, 2011
In the first half of 2011, states enacted a record number of laws restricting women's access to reproductive health care, according to a new report.

Against religious freedom: a debate

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 8, 2011
Austin Dacey and Colin Koproske argue over religious freedom with William Galston in the latest issue of Dissent Magazine.

Prominent climate skeptic funded by oil, coal companies

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 30, 2011

One of the most prominent scientists to reject the scientific community's consensus on climate change has admitted to being paid more than $1 million over the past decade by U.S. oil and coal companies.

Ohio House approves ban on abortions after heartbeat

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 29, 2011

The Ohio House of Representatives has voted to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which is usually around 6 or 7 weeks. The legislation does not include exceptions for rape, incest, or the mother's health. 

Stay updated on the CFI Leadership Conference 2011

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 24, 2011
You can keep informed about the Center for Inquiry's Leadership Conference 2011 by following live Tweeting and blogging.

United Nations recognizes LGBT rights for first time ever

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 21, 2011
The U.N. officially endorsed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered rights in a resolution that narrowly passed the Human Rights Council.

Michael Shermer: The Believing Brain

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 16, 2011
Michael Shermer: The Believing Brain

On June 9, 2011, CFI-New York City and NYC Skeptics hosted Michael Shermer for a talk about his new book, "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths."  Full video, including both the talk and Q&A, is now on CFI's YouTube page.

Legislating morality

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 6, 2011
What does it mean to legislate morality, and it is proper?

Majority of Americans now support marriage equality

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 26, 2011
Majority of Americans now support marriage equality
New Gallup poll shows 53 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal.

Richard Dawkins’ Children’s Book Revealed

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 17, 2011
Richard Dawkins’ Children’s Book Revealed
"The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True" will be released in October 2011.

A pluralist approach to ethics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 11, 2011
All ethical approaches have their shortcomings, but we can assemble a reasonable moral outlook with parts of each.

Rep. Pete Stark Supports National Day of Reason

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 5, 2011
Congressman makes statement on floor of House of Representatives in support of the 2011 National Day of Reason.

A public dialogue on morality

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 28, 2011
A public dialogue on morality
Video of my recent discussion on secular and religious morality with Father Jonathan Morris is now in YouTube.

Rep. Gohmert Proposes “Ten Commandments Weekend”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 20, 2011
Republican from Texas introduces House resolution designating first weekend of May as "Ten Commandments Weekend."

Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 11, 2011
Bestselling secularist author debates theologian on morality and God.

Don’t blame free speech for the murders in Afghanistan

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 8, 2011
Many people believe Terry Jones has legal and moral responsibility. I believe he has neither. Here is why.

Belief in God Remains a Stumbling Block in Moral Debate

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 24, 2011
Criticism of CFI's recent ad campaign shows belief in God is a problem for those who desire constructive moral discourse.

A different kind of moral relativism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 16, 2011
Some thoughts on philosopher Jesse Prinz's case for moral relativism.

To refute or promote?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 10, 2011
The debate between secularists over whether to refute religious belief or promote moral values is a mistaken one.

What Would You Ask Hitchens?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 3, 2011
What Would You Ask Hitchens?
I'll be interviewing the famed journalist and author the evening of March 8 at Stony Brook University.

Consciousness: A Panel Discussion

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 22, 2011
Video of the Center for Inquiry-New York City's Darwin Day forum on consciousness has been posted on YouTube.

The New Atheists: Aggressive or Brave?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 16, 2011
Ian Ravenscroft says that despite what many argue, the New Atheists aren't aggressive -- they're just not afraid of debate.

Susan Jacoby on “the movement”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 10, 2011
Susan Jacoby on “the movement”
The author argues that secularists, atheists, humanists, and skeptics, must stop quarreling if they want to make progress.

In Egypt, Accepting Democracy Despite Its Risks

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 8, 2011
The possibility of Islam gaining a stronger hold in Egypt is not an argument against democracy.

Vegetarianism: moral stance or mere preference?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 26, 2011
If there are no compelling ethical reasons supporting vegetarianism, it risks degenerating to the level of preference.

Political discourse must improve, but let’s not overreach

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 17, 2011
Americans are right to condemn harsh political rhetoric, but we shouldn't expect discourse that is nice and neat.

Considering some common objections to philosophy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 10, 2011
People often tell me that philosophy is esoteric and useless. Are they correct?

Does the National Center for Science Education Deserve the Criticism It Receives?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 28, 2010
Secularists continue to charge that the NCSE too often promotes the compatibility of science and religion. Do they have a point?

Finding a Secular Meaning in Christmas

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 24, 2010
The prologue to Bertrand Russell's autobiography sums up how I feel as another year passes.

When the Unethical Becomes the Unlawful

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 20, 2010
Not everything that is unethical should be unlawful, so what determines the transition from ethics to law?

If Religion Means So Much, How Could Atheism Mean Nothing?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 10, 2010
Some reflection on the secular moralist argument that atheism is meaningless.

On Utilitarianism and Consequentialism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 24, 2010
Some people say we're all utilitarians/consequentialists at bottom. But there are good reasons to be skeptical of such claims.

TSA Chief Says No Religious Exemptions for Airport Screenings

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 17, 2010
TSA Chief Says No Religious Exemptions for Airport Screenings
Sen. John Ensign raised the issue during a recent Senate hearing with TSA Administrator John Pistole.

Secularism and Methodological Naturalism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 25, 2010
Is philosophical naturalism to atheism as methodological naturalism is to secularism?

Survey Highlights Americans’ Mixed Views on Church and State, Constitution

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 19, 2010
Most Americans believe U.S. Constitution founded Christian nation, but also see clear separation of church and state.

Sam Harris Talks “The Moral Landscape” in NYC

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 13, 2010
Sam Harris Talks “The Moral Landscape” in NYC
Full video of Sam Harris' lecture for CFI | NYC is now available on CFI's YouTube page.

Honest and Decent Humans Should Oppose This Pope

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 30, 2010
Honest and Decent Humans Should Oppose This Pope
That the public sees protests as unimportant or divisive is a problem of lack of general appreciation of the evidence.

What Really Happens When We Die?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 23, 2010
I was given the chance to state my position.

The President and Religion

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 14, 2010
The President and Religion
Do the president's religious beliefs matter? And how much?

CFIers Join Leading Secularists in Pondering the Future of Humanism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 30, 2010
Ron Lindsay and I contributed to a collection of essays on humanism featured on the Web site Patheos.

On What Should Politicians Base Their Decisions?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 24, 2010
On What Should Politicians Base Their Decisions?
This question comes up in nearly every political debate, and cuts to the very root of an elected official's responsibilities.

Sam Harris to Speak at 3 CFI Branches on U.S. Book Tour

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 17, 2010
Sam Harris to Speak at 3 CFI Branches on U.S. Book Tour
The author will be promoting his new book, "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values."

Refuting Extremist Ideas: Worth the Time and Energy?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 6, 2010
Refuting Extremist Ideas: Worth the Time and Energy?
I have been contemplating my usual reaction to the latest rhetoric from Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

Beware the Frame

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 29, 2010
Beware the Frame
The choices with which we are presented do not always reflect all reasonable possibilities.

Which Books Do Freethinkers Consider Essential Reading?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 14, 2010
Which Books Do Freethinkers Consider Essential Reading?
Notable freethinkers were polled about the works they would recommend to others; Bertrand Russell topped the list.

Does Sharron Angle Believe What She Says About Abortion?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 9, 2010
Are Angle's statements authentic, or political pandering?

The Extreme Abortion Views of Republican Senate Candidate Sharron Angle

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 8, 2010
The Extreme Abortion Views of Republican Senate Candidate Sharron Angle
What does the woman attempting to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believe about abortion?

Appeals to Common Practice Don’t Make Science and Religion Compatible

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 17, 2010
Appeals to Common Practice Don’t Make Science and Religion Compatible
By Alan Leshner's logic, drinking and driving are also compatible.

Sen. Tom Harkin on Filibuster Reform

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 15, 2010
Sen. Tom Harkin on Filibuster Reform
On July 14, I had the profound pleasure of attending a talk by the Democratic Senator from Iowa.

Reza Aslan’s Confusing Comments on Religion and Belief

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 9, 2010
Reza Aslan’s Confusing Comments on Religion and Belief
Aslan charges religion is more about identity than belief. But belief determines identity.

The Concerns of Morality: Well-Being and Flourishing

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 25, 2010
Morality, and moral deliberation, is the domain of concerns for the well-being and flourishing of sentient and conscious beings.

The Bible Was Written by Drunkards and Junkies

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 5, 2010
The Bible Was Written by Drunkards and Junkies
Well, maybe -- but that's not the point. Rather, the point is a Polish pop star has been charged for stating just that.

Dawkins Challenges Australian Lawmaker on Creationism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 4, 2010
Dawkins Challenges Australian Lawmaker on Creationism
Dawkins and self-described creationist Steve Fielding get into an interesting exchange on a recent TV program.

CFI’s Matthew LaClair, Creationist Don McLeroy to Square Off on Radio Show

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 23, 2010
CFI’s Matthew LaClair, Creationist Don McLeroy to Square Off on Radio Show
LaClair, president of CFI On Campus, will host McLeroy, creationist leader of the conservative faction of the Texas Board of Ed.

Holocaust Denial and Free Speech

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 21, 2010
Should governments punish Holocaust denial?

Should Biology Textbooks Include “Biblical Myth” Language?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 12, 2010
A Tennessee father is fighting to ban a textbook that refers to the Biblical creation story as a "myth." Does he have a point?

Abortion: A Question of Women’s Rights, Morality—or Both?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 5, 2010
Too often liberals defend abortion as a women's right without first making the moral and legal case for the procedure.

An Evening with S.E. Cupp

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 31, 2010
An Evening with S.E. Cupp
I recently had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with conservative pundit S.E. Cupp.

A Response to Criticism of “The Problems With the Atheistic Approach to the World”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 25, 2010
My essay on atheism last week garnered a ton of response. I think readers deserve a reply.

Sam Harris is Back, Arguing Science Can Answer Moral Questions

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 23, 2010
Sam Harris is Back, Arguing Science Can Answer Moral Questions
Sam Harris is back with a new book on how science can and should be an authority on morality.

The Problems With the Atheistic Approach to the World

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 19, 2010
If the typical liberal approach to religion and politics doesn't work, what about the pure atheist response?

A Call for Compromise: A Letter to Itawamba County Agricultural High School Leaders

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 12, 2010
People can disagree while collectively granting and protecting the rights and equality of those they disagree with.

Why Democratic Discourse?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 9, 2010
There are problems with how most Americans view the relationship between politics, morality, religion, and belief.

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