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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

America is very much still a religious nation --- just asks its pols

By Brandon Brown




Atheists and agnostics in Washington cowering in fear


JewishWorldReview.com |

W ASHINGTON— (MCT) Many lawmakers feel a sense of pride when asked to give the invocation to open a House session, but U.S. Rep. Juan Mendez of Arizona was gripped by a different emotion.

"I came in with a little bit of fear — not wanting to let myself be known," said Mendez, a freshman Democrat from Tempe.

"Known" as an atheist.

Even as Americans become less religious and their tolerance for atheism is growing, there are still very few politicians who are openly nonreligious. They have to walk the thin line between their personal feelings and public image.

"There is such a stigma attached to being a nonbeliever," said Lauren Youngblood, spokeswoman for the Secular Coalition for America.

This despite the fact that the fastest-growing religious group in the U.S. from 2007 to 2012 was religiously unaffiliated — or "nones" — according to a 2012 Pew Research report. It said the percentage of religiously unaffiliated U.S. adults grew from 15.3 to 19.6 percent in that time.

Nonreligious includes everything from atheists and agnostics to people who simply do not affiliate with any particular religion. But Pew said atheists and agnostics made up 5.7 percent of the adult population in 2012, accounting for about 13 million people.

But there is only one member of Congress who has gone on record as nonreligious: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was the only one to answer "none" when a 2013 Pew Research poll asked members of Congress about their religion.

Sinema's office declined requests for an interview for this article.

"When she first got elected, everybody in our movement was very enthusiastic," said Bishop McNeill, coordinator for a new secular political action committee. "But unfortunately . . . she has gotten some advice to stray away from that label."

Experts say such reticence is understandable given the often-negative perception of atheists in this country and the long history of religion and politics.

"Religion and politics have always gone together in America," said Kevin Coe, a communications professor at the University of Utah and author of "The G0D Strategy."



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Ever since George Washington talked in his first inaugural address about "fervent supplication to that Almighty being," Coe said, presidents and other politicians have felt inclined to talk about religious faith.

Even though the Constitution bans a religious test for elected office, Coe said a de facto test is whether or not a candidate openly speaks to his or her beliefs.

That's only fair that candidates share their religious beliefs, said Brent Walker, so voters can know where politicians stand morally.

Walker, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said that being a person of faith can be a plus in a country as religious as the U.S. — even though he conceded that some politicians overdo it to push policies.

But atheists, he said, remain "a very distinct minority in our country and I would argue a political disadvantage."

Former members of Congress who have professed their lack of faith would agree.

In 2007, then-Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark, D-Calif., became the first member of Congress to declare his atheism.

"I didn't wear my atheism on my sleeve," he said. "But I never went to prayer breakfast, either."

After Stark came out, he met with some atheist groups but said he was surprised by how abrasive they were.

"I was sort of set back how aggressive and nasty they were towards anyone in another religion," Stark said.

He said it should not matter what his, or any politician's, religion is. That antagonistic attitude is one reason he and other lawmakers believe the label atheist has a bad rap.

Stark won two more elections as an atheist, but was beat in a 2012 primary race, leaving no open atheists in Congress.

Youngblood claims that 32 members of the current Congress have told her or others in the Secular Coalition for America that they are atheist but cannot admit it for fear of political backlash. Walker did not comment on the number, but said he would not be surprised if there were nonbelievers in Congress who claimed a faith.

To help chip away at atheism's negative connotations, Youngblood said the coalition is encouraging atheists to "come out" — much as gays and lesbians did in the past.

But that may be easier said than done.

Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., made history in 1987 when he became the first member of Congress to willingly come out as gay, but it was not until recently, after he left office, that he talked about his lack of faith.

Frank said he quit professing any faith long ago, but because he was asked about his religion he would answer "Jewish." While "none" might have been more truthful, Frank said, he did not want to appear as if he was turning his back on other Jews.

"(Politically) the barriers on nonreligious people have pretty much been dropped," said Frank, who considers himself culturally Jewish. But he said making the leap from nonreligious to declaring "yourself an atheist goes eight steps further."

Like Stark, Frank said atheist remains a harsh word.

That perception is the No. 1 problem nontheist politicians face, McNeill said. That is one reason for the creation earlier this year of the Freethought Equality Fund, which he coordinates, a political action committee to raise money for "electing secular leaders" and "defending secular America."

The PAC does not have to report its financials to the Federal Election Commission until January, but it already has more than 50 donors, said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, which operates the PAC. He said that means it can operate as a multicandidate PAC.

Chances for nonbelieving politicians are better — but still not good. A 2012 Gallup poll found that 54 percent of voters would vote for an atheist in a presidential election, well above the 18 percent who said in 1958 that they would vote for an atheist.

But the same 2012 Gallup poll said 95 percent would vote for a woman, 94 percent for a Catholic, 80 percent for a Mormon and 68 would vote for homosexual. Atheist was the least-popular option.

Mendez said he does not shy away from the word atheist — but he did not want to be labeled the atheist lawmaker, either.

When he was called to offer the prayer in May, he first tried to get a secular lobbying group to give the invocation in his place, but that fell through. So he gave an invocation that started by asking all present not to bow their heads, but to look around at the others in the room.

"Let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness," Mendez said, "our shared ability for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our constitution and for our democracy."

The next day, Rep. Steve Smith, R-Ariz., asked House members to join him in prayer for "repentance of yesterday." But Mendez said that was the only thing "that made it feel like I was doing something that I wasn't supposed to be doing." Otherwise, he said, he got positive emails and phone calls, and was stopped on the street by people thanking him for his prayer and message.

"I never meant to carry any type of flag," Mendez said. "It was me just trying to be myself in that situation."

Mendez's "prayer" never addressed God, only humans, and it quoted Carl Sagan. And then, like any good atheist prayer, it ended not with "amen" but with "thank you."

G0D IN GOVERNMENT

Religions represented in Congress:

—Protestant: 301
—Catholic: 163
—Mormon: 15
—Orthodox Christian: 5
—Jewish: 33
—Buddhist: 3
—Muslim: 2
—Hindu: 1
—Unitarian Universalist: 1
—None: 1
—Don't know/refused to answer: 10

Source: "Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress," Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)


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