An Atheist Group Asks, Should New York Be in the Pope Business?

Sep 21, 2015

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

By Ginia Bellafante

When you call the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis., and you are put on hold, a recording of a song written by one of its founders, Dan Barker, performed to the melody of the “Battle of Jericho,” begins to play. (“I’ve heard about your hero Joshua who’s not so great/But there’s none like Thomas Jefferson and his battle between church and state.”) For 37 years, the organization has espoused the causes of atheists, agnostics and skeptics fighting laws that make days of religious observance state holidays, practices that leave public schools with pictures of Christ hanging on their walls and town councils that appropriate public money for, to cite one example, the repair of church steeples. In many instances the foundation’s work has been successful.

Given its reach, it is perhaps not surprising that the group, which claims 1,200 members in New York, has recently taken issue with the de Blasio administration’s affection for the current pope. Specifically, the group objects to the city’s gift of 80,000 tickets awarded through a lottery to those New Yorkers who would like to see Pope Francis’ procession in Central Park, one of several appearances he is scheduled to make during his visit to New York next week. “In this case the city of New York is showing favoritism to one religion, Catholicism, over all minority religions and nonreligions,” a letter from the group’s co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor to the mayor read. “NYC appears to be endorsing Pope Francis’ sectarian message.”

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19 comments on “An Atheist Group Asks, Should New York Be in the Pope Business?

  • Why can’t this grotesquely wealthy organizations fund its own promotional and publicity walk-abouts?

    After all, for the most part its funds derive from what are in reality indulgences, which the church is able to extract from members of its flock as a result of the feelings of guilt and fear it has instilled in them from birth.

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  • I’d be happy to support a walk around the moment this Pope hands over the pedophile priests he is still harboring to the police, changes the catholic churches position on contraception and abortion and gets out of our education system and health system. I kiss his feet if he does that.

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  • New York IS in the pope business!

    I expect that NY intends to profit handsomely off the popes visit. 80,000 free tickets. That gives you an idea of how many tickets will be going for money, not to mention all the other money makers that will be used to make money off the visit of the very moneyed pope.

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  • Atheism is an intellectual position held by a tiny segment of the population. There are 68 million Catholics in the United States. Though never without detractors and opponents, the Pope is recognized as a de facto international good will ambassador by billions -Catholics and non-Catholics alike. A definition of “Vatican” should give pause to those who would denigrate the legitimate status the Pope enjoys in the world community: The term Vatican also refers to the authority and jurisdiction of the Pope … Other sovereign nations recognize the Holy See as a sovereign nation … Of course national governments and municipalities are going to pay for his visits from public funds just as they would pay for visits from other world leaders, secular or religious.

    Atheist organizations must pick their battles balancing the benefits of promoting critical thinking based on science and reason against the momentary pleasure of mooning His Holiness. We are intellectuals…not assholes.

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  • Melvin
    Sep 22, 2015 at 1:51 am

    Though never without detractors and opponents, the Pope is recognized as a de facto international good will ambassador by billions -Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

    I think it is a crass assumption to think the pope is regarded as a force for good among non-Catholics! Some maybe, but many protestants thoughout history from Henry VIII on – and at present have regarded Catholicism as evil and conspiring with evil.
    It is only since secularism began to dominate, that the religions now pretend to be buddy-buddy with each other!

    “Vatican” should give pause to those who would denigrate the legitimate status the Pope enjoys in the world community: The term Vatican also refers to the authority and jurisdiction of the Pope … Other sovereign nations recognize the Holy See as a sovereign nation

    Starting with the “legitimate” regimes of Mussolini, Hitler and Franco – in exchange for RCC support for them!!!! – Not to mention a whole string of South American invaders and dictators!
    In this way, Italians did not have to have divided loyalties. Therefore, Mussolini worked to get the Roman Catholic Church to accept a Fascist state while he planned to offer the Roman Catholic Church what it wanted.

    Vatican propagandists like to re-write and actively promote, rosy spectacle versions of history to con the gullible, but those who study reputable historical evidence, know otherwise!

    Visits to Cuba and the USA are just more propagandist RCC promotion tours with rallies from their supporters!

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  • In New York the Francis-show

    Tickets are sold out.

    In Rome the Jubilee

    Indulgences are sold out.

    Money flows as rivers

    And guess who size the most.

    To you remains the cost.

    Tourism has its advantage. [1]

    Politicians have their advantages. [2]

    To you remain the “satisfaction”

    Of paying for those

    That are seeking power and gold

    Making to believe to the world

    That they are in favor of the poor

    While they are only impostors.

    [1] (Catholic Tourism with tax exemptions as in Italy?)

    [2] (The Catholic god will forgive them thanks to “their” generosity.)


    Hurray for the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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  • Melvin, as a matter of interest, although it has representation at the United Nations, does the Vatican supply its own utilities? Does it have its own football team? Does it compete in the Olympic games?

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  • My comment did not attempt to review the wrongs perpetrated by the Catholic Church throughout history, the authoritarian superstitions of Catholic theology; the inestimable harm caused by Catholic doctrines, especially the denial of reproductive rights to women through “pro-life” bans on contraception and abortion.

    History has delivered hundreds of millions of Catholics on our doorstep who cherish their faith and revere their Holy Vicar of Christ. As an atheist I do not hate Catholic people whose efforts in charitable enterprises, times of crisis, and daily life ostensibly reflects a conscientious pursuit of what they call the “imitation of Christ [Jesus]” and what we secularists call “humanist morality.” Pope Francis will arrive on our doorstep next week to thunderous greetings from masses of the faithful, non-Catholic well wishers and common celebrity worshipers. Francis by all accounts seems a man of good intentions and humility, sincerely dedicated to the needs of the poor, the sick, the homeless, the migrant and the incarcerated. He also has a lot to answer for: the child sex abuse scandal, the role of women in the church, the reproductive rights of women and the condemnation of homosexuality as sin.

    On balance, however, the New York visit will be their party, their celebration. It’s foolish for atheists to try to rain on their parade by protesting the public costs of hosting this event on grounds of separation of church and state. The Pope is an international official figure, a world spiritual leader, an incredibly popular global celebrity traditionally welcomed by nations (almost) everywhere he goes. The Freedom from Religion Foundation will only alienate more people from the intellectual dignity of atheism and stereotype atheists as narrow-minded, mean-spirited nut cases. Rather than being the mouse that roared, atheists will become mice admonished by public opinion to slink back into their holes where they can go quietly insane.

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  • Melvin
    Sep 22, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    On balance, however, the New York visit will be their party, their celebration. It’s foolish for atheists to try to rain on their parade by protesting the public costs of hosting this event on grounds of separation of church and state.

    It will be interesting to see the comparison with the Chinese president’s secular visit!
    Chinese President Xi Jinping is embarking on his first state visit to the United States this week amid economic and security tensions that many experts describe as the most serious in a decade.

    Arriving in Seattle on Tuesday, he’ll glad-hand with titans of industry like Warren Buffett, Apple’s Tim Cook and Disney’s Bob Iger. In Washington, he’ll receive a 21-gun salute on the White House lawn and have a formal dinner with President Obama. In New York, he’ll deliver a speech at the United Nations.

    For Xi, the optics of those appearances — and the opportunity to make personal connections with America’s business and political leaders — are key.

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  • The official religion of the state of New York is Roman Catholism. None of us should resent the fact that the pope is given a stage like any popular song bird would. The people should revive their first amendment rights at this moment and assemble around the cities where the show is scheduled. The Constitution is clear about exemptions not to be made for religion. So bring your grievances and let the public jury hear you. This is a moment to first amendment action to expression that is to disagree with the pope, to assemble so to deny his pontifiacal system of inquiry and bring your religion too if you have any or simply bring your candles to light up the darkness deliberately created for the sight ensuring that the fans under an open sky fail to see what they have an opportunity to see in proportion.

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  • There are many moral blemishes the public and the scientists could point out while the Pope sings at Central Park. 1- The park houses a zoo but its conservation practice in respecting to animals in cages have been rumored to be questionable. 2- The public has acquired an unnatural flavor for reality tv drama. These shows have been so effective that the public actually expects the same scenary to be presented in the real world so that they can copy what they learned from tv. The women shown as progressive or independent shopping or working is not much different than the teenage girl whose sexual senses are overcome by the feelings erupted in the ancient chambers of the brain and the new brain isnt just prepared at that stage of physiological development to respond in a sophisticated fashion leaving the thinking young person to beleive that what they are feeling is all there is to their natural calling…sadly the teenager male or female does not have a sophisticated mother rather a mother who pushes her children to go inside a closet to reveal their dirty thoughts to an old man who cares about their dirty thoughts but don’t expect him to come do your dirty laundry. That would be a separate visit in a different location. The man they don’t know gets a live and free peep show…like sex talk over the phone or chat room but here at a church it is even better because one can pray right away and seek forgiveness for getting excited while listening to children talk dirty. This is serious because it is real. The american dilemma includes the religious people, mostly women who are convinced when they see a man in a uniform that sky god loves her, her husband and her children–that he alone to be trusted to be admired and shown affection. she encourages her husband to worship another man and he does so because he takes comfort in the fact that the pope doesnt threaten his kingdom attained by sex. that the pope is celibate or impotent toward sexual desire which the lower men achieving for kingdom with a mark of cubs believes is cheap work unlike the celibate work which he think he is naturally incapable of pursuing [just look at all the tv shows and movies determined to point out that men are a weaker sex because of their reproductive organ!] and therefore the pope must be a special kind of a guy. It is about time the thinking women in America take charge of their progeny and do them the service they owe, to cut the rusty wire and false connections each time and to ensure survival of the free scientist, its being inside a neural habitat in all of us. only the women can save the men and children. Her rights should shift from her wants to carry a child to term to her right to educate herself as a child and as an adult and to accept verifiable facts about nature and build courage to deny that what is proven wrong and false. REproductive right is a male right in the scheme of marriage, the right to be productive which may be prevented due to reproduction period is what the women need to attain. Not re produce but to produce anew and robust. Tell the pope no more lecturing on sex unless the pope qualifies on the topic and shows eligibility to understand all that flows from this subject of sex.

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  • Tay: For most of human history, biological evolution required women to carry about six pregnancies on average to term to prevent extinction of the species. Infant-child mortality equal to or greater than 50% coupled with maternal mortality and generally low life expectancy posed a daunting challenge to the survival of Homo sapiens. The nearly 2,000-year old institution of the Catholic Church was reasonably; or more accurately, necessarily pro-natalist not only to keep the faithful afloat but, along with other public and private imperatives, to keep Europe itself from going under during such dissemations as the Black (bubonic) Plague of the 14th century.

    More recent demographic transitions gathering steam from around 1850, saw death rates fall at an accelerating pace while birthrates remained high, resulting in the dire overpopulation generated in the 20th century. Since around 1970 world birthrates have been dropping, tending toward replacement level, but because of the momentum of huge youthful cohorts entering their child-bearing years, population in absolute numbers could almost double in the 21st century and sometime beyond.

    Education about reproductive rights should currently include information about the rational responsibility of limiting lifetime fertility on average to two or three children per woman consistent with a consensus policy to first stabilize then reduce world population.

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  • Today, the 24th on the six o’clock evening news, I am watching a huge procession going down 5th Avenue in New York City with the Pope riding in his pope-mobile. All this talk of helping the world’s poor is sickening coming from the leader of the very organization that keeps the Catholic women of the world ground down into the dust with threats of hellfire if they try to control the size of their own family. It’s this very organization that prohibits condoms that prevent HIV infection that leaves children orphaned and poverty stricken in the third world.

    Want to battle poverty? Let women limit the number of children they bare. Let men use condoms for the good of the entire family. Use the massive financial holdings of the Catholic church to make a real difference in the third world. That’s what anyone would do with that much power and that much money. The hypocrisy is disgusting.

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  • …children they bear. (correction)

    Also, how wonderful that in the middle of this obscene display of papal wealth parading down ritzy Fifth Avenue, a commercial break came on from Freedom From Religion Foundation. I was so happy. It explained that this is a secular nation and that government and religion must remain separate.

    Thank you FFRF for all the good work you do.

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  • Pope addresses Congress – Separation of Church and state?????
    Speaker of the US House John Boehner will resign from his leadership position and give up his seat at the end of October.

    Mr Boehner has been under pressure from the conservative wing of his party, and in particular over government funding for Planned Parenthood.

    The announcement comes one day after the speaker hosted Pope Francis for a major address to the US Congress.

    The speaker’s resignation comes as Republicans have been deliberating over plans to defund women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood.

    Hardline conservatives have urged the leadership to stall a government funding bill – a move that could see the US government shut down next week for the second time in as many years – if language defunding the healthcare provider is not included.

    .On Thursday, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to address a joint session of Congress following an invitation from the catholic House speaker.

    . . . .A classic illustration of why faith-heads and faith-thinkers, should not be trusted to interpret laws, or be put in positions of power!

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