This week, we in the United States celebrate the founding 242 years ago of a nation that would embrace and enshrine the ideals of the Enlightenment, however imperfectly, and establish a secular government. The recent news of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court raises concerns about the shifts to come. What will a Supreme Court shaped by President Trump mean for church-state separation and other constitutional rights? This week’s newsletter examines that question.
As Independence Day inspires us to once again revisit the lives and contributions of the founders of the American republic, we can also take this opportunity to remember a founder of American freethought, Robert Green Ingersoll. As we mark the Ingersoll Birthplace Museum’s twenty-fifth year restoring the Great Agnostic to his place in the story of America.
Last week I traveled to Geneva to speak on behalf of the Center for Inquiry before the UN Human Rights Council and warned that secular values and freethought are under serious threat in countries around the world as atheists are targeted for persecution, prison, and death.
More of today’s champions of secularism recently gathered in a religious-Right stronghold, as the Texas Democratic Party’s Secular Caucus held its second convention, attracting candidates from across the state who share the values of our movement.
This week we’ll also go behind the scenes and “into the trenches” of evolution education, as Bertha Vazquez, director of our Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, speaks with Cara Santa Maria on her podcast. And evolution couldn’t have gotten started without organic compounds, and we’ll hear some tantalizing news about an alien world with some features that are remarkably familiar to carbon-based life forms such as ourselves.
Don’t forget: Richard Dawkins is coming to Dallas and Nashville this October with special guest Carolyn Porco! Get your tickets now.
Robyn E. Blumner
President & CEO, Center for Inquiry
Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science