Friday, September 27, 2002

Aha! The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized secular humanism as a religion in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495 note 11.

"Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others. See Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 101 U.S. App. D.C. 371, 249 F.2d 127; Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, 153 Cal. App. 2d 673, 315 P.2d 394; II Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences 293; 4 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1957 ed.) 325-327; 21 id., at 797; Archer, Faiths Men Live By (2d ed. revised by Purinton), 120-138, 254-313; 1961 World Almanac 695, 712; Year Book of American Churches for 1961, at 29, 47."
Self-worshippers plan march on Washington.

"We are participating in this march to reclaim the American nation as a secular nation because we feel it's being moved more and more to a religious nation," said Katherine Bourdonnay, a spokesperson for the Council for Secular Humanism.

It seems kind of odd that atheists and secular humanists would confine the word religion to those who believe in the existence of and worship a divine being. It is my understanding that the origin of the word religion comes from the Latin word for "relationship", as in a relationship with God or another person. Since atheists and secular humanists have a strong tendency to emphasize relationships with material things like money (indeed, that is how they sadly measure the value of their lives), it would seem that they are trying to foster as much religion, if not more, as a devout Christian might. The only difference, of course, is that you don't hear very many Christians saying that secular humanists and atheists can't be informed by their beliefs in the public square or popular government. Talk about violating the Establishment Clause!

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Speaking of The Civil War, I understand that the writer of the song "Dixie," which the Confederacy sort of adopted as its anthem, was not only a "yankee northerner," he was also Catholic. I've been able to confirm the former (Daniel Decatur Emmett was born in Ohio and was not particularly enamored when the Confederacy coopted his song), but I haven't been able to verify the latter.
I've been watching the digitally remastered edition of The Civil War on PBS over the last few nights, and there's just a chock full of interesting information I missed the first time I saw it several years ago. I just may go out and buy the DVD.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Federal death penalty law is ruled unconstitutional. This is only somewhat of a bombshell, because only a particular law involving the death penalty is being ruled upon and not the death penalty itself.

U.S. District Judge William Sessions said the law does not adequately protect defendants' rights.

"If the death penalty is to be part of our system of justice, due process of law and the fair trial guarantees of the Sixth Amendment require that standards and safeguards governing the kinds of evidence juries may consider must be rigorous, and constitutional rights and liberties scrupulously protected," he said.

Monday, September 23, 2002

On my Notre Dame football musing below, a reader informs me that neither Knute Rockne (until he later converted) or Ara Parseghian were Catholic when they were the head coach of the Irish.

Speaking of sports, who are some of the most famous and greatest American athletes who are (or were when they were alive) also faithful Catholics? There must be a few, but for some reason I can only think of Roger Staubach, former great quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. I read somewhere that even during his playing career, Staubach was a daily communicant. How awesome is that?
Governor Gray Davis rationalizes abortion, and now embryonic stem cell research, on the premise that pre-born children are not human, and that such things will better our society. Hitler, of course, had the same perspective regarding the Jews and the involuntary experimentations that were done on them. Thus, to equate people like Gray Davis to Adolf Hitler is justified, although Davis is more of an equal opportunity offender.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Just a passing curiosity, but I wonder if in addition to being the first black head football coach at Notre Dame, Tyrone Willingham is the first non-Catholic head football coach at said university.