This week not one, but two Freethought Radios (since we reran the May 17th show last week). On this week’s Freethought Radio, Dan Barker is flying solo and after announcing FFRF’s financial help to persecuted Bengali atheist and feminist Taslima Nasrin, Dan interviews activist Carole Beaton about her efforts to keep religion and government separate in Eureka, California. After Freethought Radio, we’ll hear from self-described anti-theist Brian Keith Dalton, aka Mr. Deity, who says that what differentiates him from religious fundamentalists is that it’s all about evidence and says is that “if I am wrong, I want to know.” Then, starting off hour 2, Gordon Bonnet of Skeptophilia asks “what do you do know about diptheria?” You answer is probably “not much” because it’s one of those diseases no one sees anymore thanks to vaccines. Unless, that is, you’re one unfortunate child in Spain whose parents are anti-vaxxers. Then Hemant Mehta will give us 12 reasons we know astrology doesn’t work. And finally on last week’s Freethought Radio. Annie Laurie and Dan talk about their visit to Paris and to the International Atheist conference in Gologne, Germany. They celebrate Ireland’s historic vote for marriage equality by talking with Michael Nugent, head of Atheist Ireland, who joins them on the phone from Dublin.[audio http://dl.dropbox.com/s/d7tanwdd92rskmm/SkepSun_06_07_2015.mp3]
This week on Skeptical Sunday, in the wake of the horrific murder of 17 people in Paris this past week by Islamic extremists seeking to “avenge their prophet” from his cartoon depiction in the magazine Charlie Hebdo, we stand with the people of France and say “Je suis Charlie /nous sommes Charlie.” We reflect on the precious right to free expression we have in the West and the nature and motivations of those who’d like to take it away. First, on Freethought Radio, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker honor the slain French cartoonists by talking with the irreverent Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson. Then they chat with Marshall Brain, the founder of “How Stuff Works,” about his new freethinking book, How “God” Works. Perhaps the most eloquent defense of the right to free speech in the face of religious intolerance I’ve ever heard was a speech by journalist Johann Hari, given a few years back entitled “Free speech vs. Islamic free speech.” Hari describes how a column of his critical of religion that was reprinted in an Indian newspaper, nearly got the editor of that paper killed. Then in hour two, Gordon Bonnet of Trumansburg , author of the Skeptophilia blog, recounts the stories of two Middle Eastern bloggers who may pay with their lives for dissenting from Islam and religious authorities. Raif Badawi is a Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a 10-year prison term and 600 lashes for criticizing the religious establishment in his country and creating a network of freethinkers. Similarly, in Shia Iran, Soheil Arabi was convicted of “insulting the prophet of Islam” and will likely be hanged. Finally we’ll hear Ed Brayton, author of the “Dispatches From the Culture Wars” blog interview ex-muslim Islamic scholar Ibn Warraq on a variety of subjects concerning the clash of Islam and Western democratic values and they discuss Warraq’s book “Defending the West.”
We’re celebrating free speech and the protection of the right to criticize religion this week on Skeptical Sunday. International Blasphemy Rights Day is tomorrow, September 30, commemorating the day in 2005 when cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed sparked violence and mayhem across the Muslim world. We’ll hear a talk given by Jeremy Beahan of Grand Valley State University on why we should celebrate Blasphemy Rights Day, then a powerful speech by British journalist Johann Hari about what happened when he was accused of blasphemy for what he published in an Indian newspaper, and finally a defense of the right to criticize religion from the late, great Christopher Hitchens. But first we get underway as we do each week with Freethought Radio. Dan and Annie Laurie tell us how the FFRF is challenging the motto “in God we trust” on U.S. currency as well as on license plates and they talk with Guy P. Harrison, author of the book, 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian.[audio http://dl.dropbox.com/s/r37xlt66dun6d1x/SkepSun_09_29_2013.mp3 ]
September 30th is International Blasphemy Rights Day.