In 1843, Karl Marx captured the way that religion is both an escape for millions whose lives consist of daily exploitation and oppression and is a mental shackle that keeps masses from understanding and making revolution to overcome those conditions of oppression, in his now famous statement, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”
This week on Equal Time for Freethought, Sunsara Taylor will talk with Raymond Lotta about the past experience and future prospects of Marxist revolutions. They will explore both how these revolutions have popularized a scientific understanding of the world and made strides in overcoming the conditions that drive people to seek comfort in religion and some of the shortcomings of this experience, in part through engaging some of the work of Bob Avakian on questions of religion, morality, the role of myth, and the importance of bringing millions into an unfettered search for the truth as part of emancipating all of humanity.
Continue reading “Show 200: Raymond Lotta – “Atheism & Politics””
The battle between the progressive secular Left in America with religion lies squarely on the frontlines of radical religious fundamentalism. It is clear for the American Left that an America dominated by the likes of Dominionists – Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Tim Lahaye and many politicians in the current Neo-Conservative Republican Party – will be an America minus democracy, diversity and equality.
But what of religious liberals?
Continue reading “Show 188: The Politics of Jesus – A Debate”
From the preface of Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam, and the War of Ideas
“For Americans, Islam has emerged as the quintessential “Other,” replacing the Soviet Union as the touchstone against which U.S. citizens measure their collective sense of Self. It has become a cliché to say that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 “changed everything.” On one level, that is true. The nation’s illusion of security was shattered; its relationship with terror as something that happened somewhere else was unalterably transformed. But on another level, 9/11 simply made overt a worldview that had long been present but little acknowledged.
“Since a keffiah-clad Rudolph Valentino first strode across the silent screen, Arabs and Muslims have been Othered in U.S. society, the subject of stereotype and differentiation. Blinded by their view of Self, most Americans knew – or cared – little about what the rest of the world thought of them. Meanwhile, Arabs and non-Arab Muslims harbored a host of clichés and preconceived notions that shaped their view of the U.S., set against the overarching perception that the U.S. is intrinsically linked to, and responsible for, the policies of Israel, the ultimate Other.
Continue reading “Show 179: Lawrence Pintak”
Is it possible that the role of religion and faith has been far less of an advantage for African Americans than is commonly assumed? Might a naturalistic approach to life be more effective at addressing the challenges that African Americans continue to face, such as racism, and poverty? What might a naturalistic African American culture look like and how might it make a difference?
To help us examine the role of faith and religious practice in African American life from a critical perspective we will be joined on the phone by three African Americans who identify themselves as being humanist, atheist, and reason based, as opposed to faith based: Equal Time for Freethought’s (one time) science advisor Dr. Reg Hacksaw, who has appeared with us here in the past, atheist broadcaster Reggie Finley, also know as “The Infidel Guy,” and Dr. Anthony Pinn an author of The African American Religious Experience in America, and African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod. All three are active in their communities and will tell us about their personal journeys as well as their ideas.
And if that wasn’t enough- joining us in the studio will be a fourth African American – Sibanye, leader of the Harlem Freethinkers, a group which meets regularly to discuss issues of relevance to the Black Community from a humanistic and naturalistic perspective.
From the Introduction of Esther Kaplan‘s With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush’s White House:
“(Six) short years and a political lifetime ago, George W. Bush lost the 2000 popular election by more than half a million votes and assumed the leadership of a divided nation. (Since then) the Christian right has (aquired) more political power than at any point in its history, and Bush has governed from the far right. He has antagonized much of the world and a broad swath of the American people by launching a bold policy of preemptive war; by flouting international treaties on global warming, arms, and war crimes; and by invading Iraq despite global opposition. He has cemented a profoundly elite economic agenda, giving away hundreds of billions of tax dollars to corporations and the wealthy while undermining labor unions and relaxing laws monitoring public lands, environmental pollutants, and media ownership … He amassed a record deficit conservatively estimated to exceed $500 billion and then threatened social program austerity….
Continue reading “Show 176: Esther Kaplan”
Fund Drive Program: Religion, Science, Dubya and the “Selfish Gene”
Audio 1 here!
Audio 2 here!
For this special fund drive program, we will be traveling along the crossroads of religion and science, and chatting a bit about the relevance of science for a progressive understanding of political activism, and we will perhaps delve a bit into how science may become politicized, even subtly.
Joining me today for this special program will be my associate producer, Arnell Dowret, and hosts’ Neil Murphy and Sunsara Taylor, and also a special appearance from Dr. Reg.
We will be offering as a gift for your new or renewed membership to WBAI, a special presentation by evolutionary biologist Niles Eldredge recorded on CD for us by the World Can’t Wait group, and also Dr. Eldredge’s latest trade paperback, “Why We Do It: Rethinking Sex and the Selfish Gene.” This book responds to what I said before about subtle politicizing of science… that is, when scientists offer seemingly apolitical information on human nature, such as E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology, Richard Dawkins’ “selfish-gene” model of evolution, or Stephen Pinker’s nature over nurture arguments a la “evolutional psychology,” are they sailing beyond science toward dangerously political waters? Dr. Eldredge seems to think they are.
Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam
“I wrote Devil’s Game to fill in a gap amid the millions of words that have been written about political Islam and U.S. policy since September 11, 2001.
“It’s the story before the story, and it helps answer the question: How did we get into this mess? It’s my contention that part of the answer to that question, at least, is that for half a century the United States and many of its allies saw what I call the “Islamic right” as convenient partners in the Cold War.
“I approached this book not as an historian, but as a journalist. A great deal of it is based on scores of interviews with men and women from the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. military, and the private sector who participated in many of these events. And I relied on dozens of published works. Most of the sources I interviewed are quoted on the record, and virtually every fact in the book is footnoted…” – Robert Dreyfuss
Continue reading “Show 165: Robert Dreyfuss on How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam”
The Trials of Democracy: American Nationalism, Religion & Foreign Policy III
The Trials of Democracy: American Nationalism, Religion & Foreign Policy II
The Trials of Democracy: American Nationalism, Religion & Foreign Policy (Part One)
What is the relationship between nationalism and religion in the US? How do Americans see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and why? How does nationalism and religion in America influence US Foreign Policy? And what is the relationship between Islamic Fundamentalism, and US Foreign Policy?
As Iraq slips into civil war, bin Laden continues to record threats of terror against America, and the misguided brouhaha in the western press over the Muslim reaction to Danish cartoons unfavorably depicting Islam, add to the tensions of the modern world, these kinds of questions are more important than ever.
Anatol Lieven, originally from the UK, offers a European take on American nationalism while Stephen Bronner offers an American-born outlook, and Pervez Hoodbhoy offers a Pakistani (Muslim world) outlook.