Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason
Sean Faircloth served five terms in the Maine Legislature. Faircloth served on the Judiciary and Appropriations Committees. In his last term Faircloth was elected Majority Whip by his colleagues.
An accomplished legislator, Faircloth successfully spearheaded over thirty laws, including the so-called Deadbeat Dad child support law which saved Maine taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and was later incorporated into federal law. Faircloth had numerous legislative successes in children’s issues and justice system reform.
In two years as Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America, Faircloth conceived and led the Secular Decade plan, a specific strategic vision for resecularizing American government. Faircloth writes about his ten point vision of a Secular American government in his book Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What to Do About It.
Faircloth earned a reputation for strategic thinking, innovative ideas, and speaking to groups in a way that energized them to support the secular cause.
As Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason, Faircloth will expand his strategic efforts on behalf of the entire secular movement, speak regarding policy issues, discuss the ideas in his book, and seek innovative ways to improve the secular movement. Faircloth has spoken around the United States about separation of church and state, the Constitution, children’s policy, obesity policy, and sex crime law. Faircloth chaired a Commission on sex crime law reform which led to substantive improvement in that area of law. Faircloth chaired an early childhood commission, as well as a Commission regarding the citizen initiative process.
In Maine Faircloth also had the idea for the Maine Discovery Museum and led the four-year project from concept to completion in 2001. Maine Discovery Museum was then the second largest children’s museum outside Boston of the twenty-five children’s museums in New England. Faircloth graduated from the University of Notre Dame and has a law degree from University of California Hastings College of the Law. Faircloth served as a state Assistant Attorney General, and as a lobbyist for the state bar association.
- A New Way of Thinking — Faircloth Interview – - – Point of Inquiry (richarddawkins.net)
- Q&A, Sean Faircloth on Secular Strategy, Romney & the Religious Right – Sean Faircloth – RichardDawkins.net (richarddawkins.net)
- [UPDATE 10-Feb - video Chapter 7] Sean Faircloth discusses his new book Attack of the Theocrats – Sean Faircloth – Pitchstone Publishing (richarddawkins.net)
- Attack of the Theocrats!: A Review and an Interview with Author Sean Faircloth (patheos.com)
- Universal Tolerance (atheistethicist.blogspot.com)
- Religious Bias in Public Schools (atheistethicist.blogspot.com)
Religionists often remark that they do not see a way to live without religion. Apparently they are unaware that approximately 2 billion people around the world live lives free of religious control. It is not difficult and now a new book by Eric Maisel tells you how it is done. Here are the reviews from leading freethinkers and authors:
“Eric Maisel is clearly the atheist’s Wizard of Oz to have created a book with such brains, so much heart, and a lion’s share of real courage.”
— Dale McGowan, PhD, editor of Parenting Beyond Belief and 2008 Harvard Humanist of the Year
“Millions of people lead happy, moral, loving, meaningful lives without believing in a god, and Eric Maisel explains in exquisite rational and compassionate detail how we do it.”
— Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist and copresident of the Freedom from Religion Foundation
“I find Maisel’s writings more witty than Hitchens, more polished and articulate than Harris, and more informative and entertaining than Dawkins. A 5-star read from cover to cover!”
— David Mills, author of Atheist Universe
“The Atheist’s Way offers a meaningful approach to life that is sublime, eloquent, and inspiring. This book is a true breath of fresh air.”
— Phil Zuckerman, PhD, author of Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment
“Maisel provides a foundation for making meaning and living purposefully without supernatural intervention. A book to be relished by atheists, skeptics, humanists, freethinkers, and unbelievers everywhere.”
— Donna Druchunas, writer on Skepchick.org
“How do you bravely face the world as it is and create meaning for yourself without the crutch of a divine benefactor? Eric Maisel’s wise suggestions, musings, and insights are a wonderful resource for your quest.”
— John Allen Paulos, author of Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up
“Eric Maisel has given us a lovely, thoughtful book about belief outside of the narrow confines of organized religion. The Atheist’s Way offers an uplifting positive answer for anyone interested in how to live life without gods, superstitions or fairytales.”
— Nica Lalli, author of Nothing: Something to Believe In
“With this book, Eric Maisel does what none of the New Atheists have succeeded at doing: elaborating what atheists do believe.”
— Hemant Mehta, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay
Product DescriptionIn The Atheist’s Way, Eric Maisel teaches you how to make rich personal meaning despite the absence of beneficent gods and the indifference of the universe to human concerns. Exploding the myth that there is any meaning to find or to seek, Dr. Maisel explains why the paradigm shift from seeking meaning to making meaning is this century’s most pressing intellectual goal.
- Martin Pribble’s Interview With Dan Barker (camelswithhammers.com)
- Dan Barker Interview – Prominent People Project (martinspribble.com)
- The Purpose-Driven Atheist (friendlyatheist.com)
- Book Review: Godless (spaninquis.wordpress.com)
- Robert Ingersoll: Prince of Atheists (new.exchristian.net)
- Hemant Mehta on Identifying Oneself as an Atheist (theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com)
- “Atheist v. Theist” – A Humanist’s Response (thehumanistchallenge.wordpress.com)
- The deity by any other name: Army resilience program gets a thumbs down from atheistsa (scientificamerican.com)
The Rise of Idiot America
The following excerpt is lifted from the first chapter of the book, “Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free”, by Charles Pierce.
The rise of Idiot America, though, is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of the intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter teased out of the national DNA, although both of those things are part of it. The rise of Idiot America today reflects—for profit, mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power—the breakdown of the consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people we should trust the least are the people who know best what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a scientist, or a preacher, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.
This is how Idiot America engages itself. It decides, en masse, with a million keystrokes and clicks of the remote control, that because there are two sides to every question, they both must be right, or at least not wrong. And the words of an obscure biologist carry no more weight on the subject of biology than do the thunderations of some turkeyneck preacher out of the Church of Christ’s Own Parking Structure in DeLand, Florida. Less weight, in fact, because our scientist is an “expert” and, therefore, an “elitist.” Nobody buys his books. Nobody puts him on cable. He’s brilliant, surely, but no different from all the rest of us, poor fool.
How does it work? This is how it works. On August 21, 2005, a newspaper account of the intelligent design movement contained this remarkable sentence:
“They have mounted a politically savvy challenge to evolution as the bedrock of modern biology, propelling a fringe academic movement onto the front pages and putting Darwin’s defenders firmly on the defensive.”
“A politically savvy challenge to evolution” makes as much sense as conducting a Gallup poll on gravity or running someone for president on the Alchemy party ticket. It doesn’t matter what percentage of people believe that they ought to be able to flap their arms and fly: none of them can. It doesn’t matter how many votes your candidate got: he’s not going to be able to turn lead into gold. The sentence is so arrantly foolish that the only
real news in it is where it appeared.
On the front page.
Of the New York Times.
Read chapter one at the following Amazon URL.
The current town hall meeting spectacles are a direct result of the rise of idiot America, as well as the phenomenon of Sarah Palin, and worst of all eight years of George Bush.
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The USA Should Institute International Standards on Child Rights
James G. Dwyer, The Relationship Rights of Children. Cambridge University Press, 2006, $ 55.00 hardcover.
The United States and Somalia stand as the only two nations in the world that refuse to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a document that lays down the basic rights and moral standing of children. Nor has the U.S. attempted to adopt the comprehensive legislation passed in many countries, such as England’s The Children Act, which focuses on all matters pertaining to children, with the child’s welfare squarely defining all legal actions.
James Dwyer, in his complexly argued book, The Relationship Rights of Children, believes that, while the United States goes far in protecting parents” rights, it is often at the expense of the welfare of children. He does not offer why the United States leans so far in favor of parents (there are complicated historical and cultural reasons for our “difference”), but instead makes a strong case, based on two centuries of philosophical reasoning, for why children deserve the same moral and legal consideration as adults, even when this consideration steps on the rights of adults.
The debate about children’s rights, when it takes place at all in this country, is usually carried on by legal scholars, with the occasional contribution of social scientists who either study child development or who offer measures of children’s economic and psychological well-being. With Dwyer, we are offered extensive arguments from the philosopher giants, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, John Rawls and others on the value of the moral autonomy of the individual. These philosophers, he admits, focus their arguments on adults, not children. In fact, he notes, John Stuart Mill, in his theory of liberty, specifically states: “[this] is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties.” Not so for Dwyer. He makes a compelling case that the same moral rights apply to children.
“Critically then, each of us competent adults has rights of self-determination because it is generally assumed as a moral matter that our interests matter, and matter equally regardless of our status in society. This empirical assumption certainly applies to children as well, and if we are to respect children as equals, we must extend the moral assumption to them also–that is, that their interests matter as much as do adults’ interests in state decision making.”
But how do children know what their interests are, and if they did, how can they assert them? Children are, of course, dependent upon adults to do so for them. But which adults? Here Dwyer argues forcefully that although the law professes to promote “the best interests of children,” in fact it is far more protective of parental rights, and that these rights are often based on a purely biological claim, not any test of parental ability. Dwyer promotes a view of parents as caretakers, not automatic owners of children. He focuses his criticism on laws creating parental rights at birth, and protecting them in events of abuse and neglect after birth. His solution is to drastically re-formulate the law so that, among other requirements, a birth mother must sign a “Parental Vow” promising love and support within two days after birth in order to become a legal parent, but the state may file a petition within seven days to determine in a court proceeding whether the mother is, in fact, unsuitable for one of many reasons, including age, mental incapacity, past conduct of violence against family members, etc. Fathers achieve legal parenthood only if the birth mother consents and they are married. Fathers not married to the mother can only be deemed legal parents if the mother consents and the father petitions the court, passing all the tests of adequate parenting. Non-biological adults may also petition the court within 30 days and their claim will be determined by the court. Following birth, similar strict tests are applied in cases of abuse or neglect of children, allowing the court to more easily terminate parental rights than is now the case.
His view of children’s rights privileges birth mothers but gives little other advantage to biological ties. Unwed fathers still have an obligation to support but not to access unless they have passed all the above tests. Adults who have acted like parents, or have firm attached relationships to children, like stepfathers, have rights over non-involved biological fathers, and a child may have more than two significant adults in his life. From this perspective, attachment trumps biology and a parent must earn the right to become and to continue as a parent.
This concept of parents as caretakers or trustees rather than the owners of children who have independent rights is much more in keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and with most European efforts at establishing a code of children’s rights. Some of its obvious consequences would be a move toward no corporal punishment and ultimately the right of children themselves, as they grow older, to petition to “divorce” their parents–the course taken in Europe.
Grounded in a strong tradition of moral philosophy, this child-centered approach adds valuable support to some American legal scholars and others who have been moving more timidly in this direction, most notably with a new revision of the influential American Law Institutes” treatise on Parent and Child where “de facto” parents (such as stepparents) without biological ties would be given greater access rights.
A limitation of this book is that Dwyer limits himself to the “protective” rights of young children and does not wander into the thornier “choice rights” of maturing adolescents. For instance: does the protective state have the right to insist on drug testing for children before they may join any after-school activity, as the Supreme Court recently ruled? or, are the rights of children served when in one courtroom a 13-year-old who steals a candy bar may be given a lawyer and nearly all the due process rights of a criminal defendant while down the hall a 13-year-old whose physical custody is being determined following divorce may have no voice or representation at all? Perhaps this philosopher will tackle maturing children’s rights in his next book.
Mary Ann Mason
University of California, Berkeley