Jaclyn Glenn On Sexism, Genderism & Homophobia

jaclyn glennJaclyn Glenn posts several videos on sexism, gender roles, and the idiot agendas against human rights. The videos speak for themselves.

We need to mock religions, any or all of them until they allow freedom and justice.

Gender roles and religion. She’s right. This school should be shut down. Who cares what’s natural? Freedom is about the rights of being different.  If we do care then we have to admit we’re omnisexual and omniogamous.

Sexism. Atheists are not immune. Ban the trolls. If the NSA spies on everyone why can’t the justice department pursue these assholes? I am more worried about them and the harm they do then being invaded by a physical terrorist. This insidious crap cripples too many and silences the rest.

Here’s her antihomophobic rap song and deconstruction of the original.

Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com

Atheists are Not the Christian Right

fundamentalistIt’s popular to claim atheists, particularly those of the Big Atheist tent, are fundamentalists like the Christian Right. Besides the pathetic bastardization of the word fundamental (have you learned the fundamentals of guitar yet?) there is no there there. Just because two groups play soccer doesn’t make them the same or odd bedfellows. World War II made strange bedfellows of all Americans but absolute pacifists. But meeting them on their acrid turf may demarcate soft atheists, isolationists, separatists, and pacifists, with political atheists though that is not their point either. I use Big Atheists for ease of contrast and comparison.

I suppose in the soccer and WWII symmetry they are right. Big Atheists don’t want Islam, as it is practiced now and as it is written, to become the dominant world religion. But they don’t want Christianity to become the dominate religion either. Nor Buddhism even though it seems much more innocuous. This is not simply a situation of an enemy of my enemy is my friend, though it may seem so. Some Big Atheists, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali openly prefer Christianity to Islam. Sam Harris openly prefers Buddhism to all Abrahamics. The Christian Right has also shown they prefer Muslims to Big Atheists, at least in choosing who they would allow their daughter to marry.

violent religionsThe Christian Right does not recognize the prophet Mohammed or any other prophet besides Jesus, usually not even Moses. Big Atheists say there are no prophets anywhere; it’s not a competition of prophets.

The Christian Right fights Islam because they are seen as dangerous to their faith. Big Atheists fight Islam because they are violent and many terrorists claim they do violence in the name of Islam. When Muslim terrorists claim their violence is due to their adherence to a religion everyone has to acknowledge their self avowed motivation and inspiration. When Christian Right terrorists do bad with avowed biblical inspiration Big Atheists criticize that. When Buddhists attack Muslims we’re usually gobsmacked and have to look deeper as there is little in Buddhism to encourage violence. Other issues are most likely the cause–such as the invasion of Muslim immigrants decimating a Buddhist community and insisting on Muslim polity as democratic justice, as they claim. In this case it is clear that any group that doesn’t breed or invade like flies loses in a unbridled democracy.

When the Christian Right wishes to be violent it is because they see Islam as a religious enemy. When Big Atheists demand violence it is because they cannot condone violence in others. A rape in Cairo is no less plaintiff than a rape in New York. Both need to stop. Big Atheists don’t give a damn who did the rape. The Christian Right will say it is impossible for a man to rape his wife. Most Big Atheists will not agree. Even the Male Rights Activists, rearing their ugly heads, argue based on social justice and free speech and not on religious texts and dogmatic canon.

The Christian Right uses sacred text and the Catholic Right uses Vatican canon to support their ideology. Big atheists have no such documents though many adhere to the US constitution, the UN Declaration of human rights, or some sort of humanist manifesto that emphasizes justice in this world, minority protection, and tolerance of nonviolent choices. There is no transcendent or transcendental appeal in  Big Atheist law. It can be changed as necessary without evoking a prophet or revelation. The Christian Right conflates law with god(s).

The Christian Right wars, converts, proselytizes, and evangelizes to make everyone one of a kind of their own ilk. Their goal is everyone is to be saved or damned, or at least follow church authority. Big Atheists seek to stop violence, promote minority rights, and demand social justice. Big atheists would tolerate religious people’s beliefs if they did not use their religion to excuse violence. Big Atheists may also be against pseudoscience and other seemingly less harmful social aspects but the biggest question is what causes the most violence in the world and to fight violence on all levels. If economics or women’s rights prove to be the cause of violence then Big Atheists attack that in concordance with the debate against religious ideology that allows violence to be inspired.

The Christian Right negates their importance on Earth other than to salvation and conversion of others. They do not judge because they believe justice is done by god(s) in the next world, or this one, through capriciousness; they cannot say why one evil person is punished here but another isn’t. Big Atheists judge here because this is the only venue of justice. Avoiding judgement because it is difficult or painful does not excuse the necessity of it. The Christian Right is hypocritical on this as they approve of jails, punishments, ostracism shame, guilt, and other judged decisions as well as supporting the judgements in the bible as a blind covenant.

The Christian Right tries to absolve itself of responsibility of judgement but their inherent exclusivity and reliance on an all powerful phantasm makes their judging all the more harsh while absolving them of complicity and the requirement to formulate laws and justice themselves. In attempting to universalize justice to authoritarian god(s) they lose their freedom and responsibility in an impossible covenant.

The Christian Right cares less about truth, veracity, logic, reason, and science then it does about imaginative, figurative, allegorical, and mythological narrative. If they think a transcendent god(s) can help people do better they are justified regardless of actual existence. A fairy tale is more important than the truth if it inspires towards the correct ideology. Lying your ass off is Ok because if it isn’t true it should be.  Big Atheists can be fantastical imagineers but it is not to replace truth, reason, or science. Big Atheists find the Christian Right to be disingenuous because they violate reason, science and its materialism.

Big Atheists see reason and science as the means to success where the Christian Right does not. Again, Big Atheists allow leeway to imagination the Christian Right does not. Big Atheists do see the utility of imagination but they demand greater support for change, especially in so called just wars and violence, than phantasms. The Christian Right cannot change their minds. Big Atheists have to be willing to change their minds.

The Christian Right considers evidence useless unless it supports their ideology. Big Atheists have no choice but to follow the evidence.

The Christian Right believes in sin and that all people are equally evil from the start. Big Atheists use the term evil to show extent of egregiousness in bad behavior but do not see the world as a Manichean war of good and evil where one group identity must defeat another. Big Atheists do see heuristic biases and issues of perspective in play but consider these biased results as mistakes and not inherent sins unapproachable or irresolvable. The Christian Right requires atonement, redemption, from god(s).

The Christian Right insists on a blind obedience to authority though they may court free will. Big Atheists demand egalitarianism though they court expertise while working against appeal to hominem and confirmation bias, and of course god(s).

The Christian Right relies on a hierarchy for governance based on trust. Big Atheists follow the power of individual participation where authority is to understand, encourage, and enhance personal interests and not supersede them. Both understand the importance of community. However, Big Atheists consider the importance of reason and science as moderating the exclusivity of community. Science in particular demands community far more than religions for its ability to verify and confirm. The Christian Right only allows witnessing to confirmation and doubt is only supported as proof of confirmation ability.

The Christian Right uses community to enhance group power and satisfy personal social communalism. Big Atheists see the value of social community but value a greater role for community in its ability to “crowd source” democracy, republicanism, egalitarianism, and better science and reason.

The Christian Right allows adherence to contrary religions simply because they are religious. It is less important to the Christian Right whether a religion is violent or not so long as it is a religion. It is not violence that is so much in question but whether the religion is attacking them or not. By this they cannot withstand comparisons of violence, social justice, minority protection, and tolerance. Theological unity is the bigger tent trumping all other issues. They fear comparison to Islam because they are fundamentally guilty of complicity to violence based on identity rather than utility, virtue, care, or universal rights and responsibilities.

The Christian Right uses status, exclusion, marginalization, ostracism, shame, and guilt to control members. Big Atheists deny any of these as useful, just, or appropriate; quaint but antiquated means of impulse control. In this sense Big Atheists embrace the virtue of Care where it is more important that all succeed than to choose a few or demand convergence to any particular group other than abstract achievements, based on material evidence, of universal humanity and humaneness. Even then Big Atheists see the value of caring for outsiders, strangers, and the others, maintaining core values of compassion and intolerance of intolerance.

The Christian Right is inherently violent. They praise the literal and allegorical aspects of war against others. Big Atheists are reluctantly violent and many like Nohm Chomsky are fiercely antiwar unless in literal, physical defense. Christian Right hard core pacifists would allow themselves death before defense because there is a better world they think they cannot attend if they are violent. Big Atheist, hard-core pacifists would allow themselves death because they cannot promote, even  by example of defense, a culture of violence and cannot elevate their life above another’s. These last two are rare examples.

Is that enough to show the ocean between these two groups?

Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Publishes Acceptance Speech Anyway

ayaan hirsi aliThe backlash against Ayaan Hirsi Ali shows just why critical thinking instead of dogmatic orthodoxy is so important. The acceptance and rejection of Ali takes several forms.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali  goes too far when picking on Islam as the most violent of Abrahamic religions.

Hmmm, Christians are the most physically persecuted Abrahamics now, by Muslims and then other Christians. Jews are the most ostracized, by Muslims and Christians. Muslims claim they are the fastest growing religion by moral necessity and if by force or love as required. More Muslims comprise terrorist or violent groups than any other Abrahamics. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is angry because she was treated poorly and not because Islamic ideology has problems.

Isn’t that how we evaluate ideologies? How they affect the people who hold them dear and follow them closely. The grading of a moral code is based on its results and its contents. This is really as stupid as saying a woman castigates rape culture because they were abused by rapists and not because it is wrong–if she hadn’t been raped she should still damned-well care. Maybe it’s because rape culture and what engenders it needs to be stopped. In any case it’s circular tautology.

The many signatures and impassioned voices justifies the shaming.

Being impressed with passion and emotion has nothing to do with veracity and much to do with the emphasis on irrationality by religions to inflame hearts and still minds. This is why religious people of all ilk tend to dislike reason. It forces them to stop, think twice and reconsider before they allow their passions to spill unabated. Just because you’re passionate doesn’t mean shit. When used here it as a conflation of reason, intuition, reaction, emotion, and motivation.

The most passionate people are willing to kill for their ideology even when the consequences don’t merit murder. Maybe they should stop and reflect. I am all for intuition but every ounce of my intuition says rape, oppression, misogyny, honor killing, and oppressive conquest are wrong. How will you verify which of contrary passions is correct or do you let it escalate to violent revolution?

A vote? You really think numbers are all that count? If the majority of a country decides to hurt all of the rest, that’s OK? If the majority seek to consolidate power over others that’s OK? If men share a unified vision to keep women as cheap labor that’s OK? If liberal moderates can’t defend themselves we should watch them be oppressed? That’s why we must have universal minority rights.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali milked the Marathon bombing.

Without doubt Islam influenced the radicalization of this event. Further the insane protection we endure is to prevent more such things, that have been promised, perhaps too much so but they have succeeded in engendering too much fear. Do you blame the one who terrorizes or the one who is terrorized?

Once we dismiss insanity, vendetta, and situational passion we must a ask what motivates one to such violence. Is there anything in Alice in Wonderland that could motivate one to violence? Is there anything in the Humanist Manifesto that would motivate one to violence? Is there anything in the United Nations declaration that would motivate to violence? What about the US constitution? What about Buddhist or Jainist documents? Is there anything in the New Testament, the Old testament, or the Koran that could motivate to violence? Bingo!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali doesn’t get that rape is everywhere.

Really, then why do countries have very different levels of rape? Why has history shown some societies to be more peaceful and less misogynistic than others? Why bother to fight rape anywhere if it is so ingrained in men, and accepted by women? Clearly, sacred texts that demonstrate the utility, ubiquity and cherishing of rape, rape culture, must be given credit for encouraging rape. Isn’t a moral code to stop  bad behavior. Not make it acceptable, regardless of its naturalness?

If we find a muder gene in some people will we allow them to murder because it’s natural? Do we accept it when Charles Manson insists a woman should kill the president because she should have known better? Do we accept a vicious text as allegorical inspiration when too many see it as literal inspiration? The narrative or responsibility needs to change.

If Ayaan Hirsi Ali thinks Isalm should be reformed she should go back there and do it.

She is under guarded protection at all times and would be murdered upon arrival. Further, the 6,000 signatures shows how much she is needed here. We always say we want to hear from the frontline and how what it is like to fight the propaganda that it’s all good over there. Then you want her not to do that? You want no reports from the trenches? Perhaps you don’t want to hear what she has to say because you would have to change. Liberals too often accept the worst kind of shit because they want to be accepting of anything and everything in their myopic morality:

“I don’t approve of clitorectomies but maybe they get something spiritual from it. Besides it’s cultural. It’s like body metal. tattooing, or bondage games. It’s not my business to be critical.”

If they kept their culture of abuse to themselves perhaps that would be some kind of point. But if you really felt the guilt of imperialism you wouldn’t accept their imperialism as revenge, and see it as more unacceptable conquest. That’s the point stop the conquest everywhere by all. This guilt is as pathetic as Southerners insisting they can be racist bastards with rebel flags because they lost the war, were oppressed by the North–a memory of oppression, the cut long gone with only mythical honor remaining.

Restorative justice means balancing but it doesn’t mean acceptance of conquest because you conquered. Further in these horrifically challenging times when all of us on the planet must work and live together, where there is no geographic isolation anymore, we must formulate an ideology of well being that saves us all. It must not allow an anything goes, free for all, or we can kiss our collective asses goodbye.

Below is the entire speech Ayaan Hirsi Ali would have given had she not been shammed by an intimidated Brandeis led by a group of students that confuse social justice with the inability to discern the difference between tolerance and intolerance.

We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking.

One year ago, the city and suburbs of Boston were still in mourning. Families who only weeks earlier had children and siblings to hug were left with only photographs and memories. Still others were hovering over bedsides, watching as young men, women, and children endured painful surgeries and permanent disfiguration. All because two brothers, radicalized by jihadist websites, decided to place homemade bombs in backpacks near the finish line of one of the most prominent events in American sports, the Boston Marathon.

All of you in the Class of 2014 will never forget that day and the days that followed. You will never forget when you heard the news, where you were, or what you were doing. And when you return here, 10, 15 or 25 years from now, you will be reminded of it. The bombs exploded just 10 miles from this campus.

I read an article recently that said many adults don’t remember much from before the age of 8. That means some of your earliest childhood memories may well be of that September morning simply known as “9/11.”

You deserve better memories than 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing. And you are not the only ones. In Syria, at least 120,000 people have been killed, not simply in battle, but in wholesale massacres, in a civil war that is increasingly waged across a sectarian divide. Violence is escalating in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Libya, in Egypt. And far more than was the case when you were born, organized violence in the world today is disproportionately concentrated in the Muslim world.

Another striking feature of the countries I have just named, and of the Middle East generally, is that violence against women is also increasing. In Saudi Arabia, there has been a noticeable rise in the practice of female genital mutilation. In Egypt, 99% of women report being sexually harassed and up to 80 sexual assaults occur in a single day.

Especially troubling is the way the status of women as second-class citizens is being cemented in legislation. In Iraq, a law is being proposed that lowers to 9 the legal age at which a girl can be forced into marriage. That same law would give a husband the right to deny his wife permission to leave the house.

Sadly, the list could go on. I hope I speak for many when I say that this is not the world that my generation meant to bequeath yours. When you were born, the West was jubilant, having defeated Soviet communism. An international coalition had forced Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The next mission for American armed forces would be famine relief in my homeland of Somalia. There was no Department of Homeland Security, and few Americans talked about terrorism.

Two decades ago, not even the bleakest pessimist would have anticipated all that has gone wrong in the part of world where I grew up. After so many victories for feminism in the West, no one would have predicted that women’s basic human rights would actually be reduced in so many countries as the 20th century gave way to the 21st.

Today, however, I am going to predict a better future, because I believe that the pendulum has swung almost as far as it possibly can in the wrong direction.

When I see millions of women in Afghanistan defying threats from the Taliban and lining up to vote; when I see women in Saudi Arabia defying an absurd ban on female driving; and when I see Tunisian women celebrating the conviction of a group of policemen for a heinous gang rape, I feel more optimistic than I did a few years ago. The misnamed Arab Spring has been a revolution full of disappointments. But I believe it has created an opportunity for traditional forms of authority—including patriarchal authority—to be challenged, and even for the religious justifications for the oppression of women to be questioned.

Yet for that opportunity to be fulfilled, we in the West must provide the right kind of encouragement. Just as the city of Boston was once the cradle of a new ideal of liberty, we need to return to our roots by becoming once again a beacon of free thought and civility for the 21st century. When there is injustice, we need to speak out, not simply with condemnation, but with concrete actions.

One of the best places to do that is in our institutions of higher learning. We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking, where all ideas are welcome and where civil debate is encouraged. I’m used to being shouted down on campuses, so I am grateful for the opportunity to address you today. I do not expect all of you to agree with me, but I very much appreciate your willingness to listen.

I stand before you as someone who is fighting for women’s and girls’ basic rights globally. And I stand before you as someone who is not afraid to ask difficult questions about the role of religion in that fight.

The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.

So I ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy—punishable by death—to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era? Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation.

Is such an argument inadmissible? It surely should not be at a university that was founded in the wake of the Holocaust, at a time when many American universities still imposed quotas on Jews.

The motto of Brandeis University is “Truth even unto its innermost parts.” That is my motto too. For it is only through truth, unsparing truth, that your generation can hope to do better than mine in the struggle for peace, freedom and equality of the sexes.

Jim Newman. bright and well


Brandeis Shames Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-portraitAyaan Hirsi Ali was offered an honorary degree from Brandeis which then rescinded the offer under pressure from students, staff, and CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). They were offended at Ali’s past comments that Islam will not reform, mutate, until it is defeated, and that there is a war on Islam.

Brandeis claims they didn’t know of her remarks.  One can only wonder how anyone could ever have missed her antiIslamic remarks since all of her writings echo that sentiment. Indeed most of her remarks are anti religion as well. She is willing to rate religions in order of their abuses; Christianity is less abusive than Islam, at least right now. And best yet would be a secular public where religions are tolerated so long as they do not publicly practice terrorism, violence, xenophobia, and female-male abuse.

ayan hirsi ali on tolerance

ayaan-hirsi-ali on silenceCAIR by pulling the holocaust card certainly fires up a lot of fear in Jews (Brandeis is nonsectarian Jewish) who are looking at a growing distaste for orthodoxy in their own ranks as are most religions.

<ayaan hirsi ali on moderateOne need only consider how apostasy is handled within the Abrahamic religions to understand their intolerance of difference–right now, Islam being the least, Judaism the most, and Christianity somewhere in between. But then what of those who claim moderation?

The sad distraction that a few or more do not represent the whole invites a rating of percentages. Just how many before one no longer excuses the whole? If all of a country(s) present an extremist, fundamentalist, orthodox, or literal view of their ideology do we say Ali is antiSomalia, antYemen, antiPakistan? Hiding behind “we are not all like that” says little to resolve the deep problems within. It avoids entirely the ideology in question that motivates the action. Certainly it excludes discussion of the material reasons one might choose an ideology or solutions to it. But even if Muslim men do bad because they are young and unemployed doesn’t deny the easy access to ideology that supports conquest and exclusion.

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-on mohammedWhen those who are “like that” use their ideology to support their violence it does little good to negate the violence as isolated from the ideology. It must be discussed on the level of the ideology or there is no reason to change and stop it. We simply must examine the ideology and deal with it directly or we condone the reasons and beliefs supporting the bad behavior.

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali on violenceCAIR certainly promotes Islamic extremism as well as Hamas which openly demands the wanton destruction of all Jews and Westerners–engaging in their dialog is doing it their way. They are not  moderate or pushing Islam as a movement of Peace. They are what the war against Islam is about–to meet the negative energy of those Islamists who would do nonIslamists harm. Ali would certainly tone down her anitpathy if more Muslims, and other religions, acted moderation.

ayaan hirsi ali on atheismThe real issue for Brandeis and most people supporting their final decision is atheistphobia. They fear her criticism of religions and her evaluating of the harm religions have done in respect to each other and in respect to secular and nontheistic ideologies. It is hard not to agree that religious ideologies can be graded in respect to their inherent violence espoused or eschewed, whether direct or indirect, implied or stated, allegorical or literal. Islam is one of the most violent and xenophobic and Buddhism is one of the least–in spite of a few peaceful Islamic sections, eg stating education is good ( as long as its Islamic education) and Buddhism’s antipathy to women. Most if not all big religions fail when it comes to xenotolerance, female rights, minority rights, adherence to egalitarian evidence, and collapse of hierarchy.

ayaan hirsi ali on womenOne wonders if Brandeis would honor Luther, who began the Reformation by being antiCatholic (and antisemitic), or Maimonides who was antinonJudaic, antigentile, though somewhat comfortably ensconced as an exile from within both Christian and Muslim persecution. Both these men softened their founding faiths while insisting you can’t belong to another religion without sacrificing salvation (goodness) and personal resurrection. Belong or have nothing.

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-on rights

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-on offenseThe  public shaming of Ali certainly shows Brandeis has no courage, is no mensch. Their chutzpah is eclipsed by their being a schmuck unable to kibbitz but as a shlemiel.

Jim Newman, bright and well


NYT Obit on Edwin Kagin

edwin kaginI never met Edwin Kagin but he sounds like the kind of person I wish I could be. High praise indeed.  The NYT published an obit showing just how much he brought to his friends, his community, and the world at large. I picked this obit because it will probably be the most widely read. I was curious the voice the remaining would give of him to the world.

There a few big notions of greatness here.

  • Be fearless.
  • Do something.
  • Pick your battles.
  • Be loud with humor.
  • Reframe as necessary.
  • Make it personal.
  • Know your content.
  • Be ready for children to vary.

What great style, Mr Kagin!

Edwin F. Kagin, the son of one minister and father of another, who saw religiosity creeping into the public domain and fought against it in a dual role as head lawyer and jester-provocateur for one of the country’s most militant atheist organizations, died on March 28 at his home in Union, Ky. He was 73.

The cause was undetermined, but he had a history of heart ailments, his sister Mary Kagin Kramer said.

Mr. Kagin was the national legal director of American Atheists, an organization founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who was instrumental in the Supreme Court decision that year banning school prayer. He was associated with the group for 40 years.

His lawsuits challenged references to “almighty God” in Kentucky state legislation, the placement of 12-foot-high crosses on highways in Utah, and plans to include a 17-foot-tall steel-beam remnant of the World Trade Center, in the shape of a cross, in the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, which is scheduled to formally open in New York next month.

In 1995, Mr. Kagin and his wife, Helen, founded a summer camp, Camp Quest, in Ohio, that has since become the model for a dozen others operating in the United States, Britain and Norway for the children of atheists, agnostics and others opposed to the religious overtones of many camp programs.

Mr. Kagin’s carefully chosen legal battles were almost always decided in the highest state and federal courts, several times landing at the doorstep of the United States Supreme Court. And win or lose, he was often praised by opposing lawyers for the precision and constitutional insight manifest in his briefs.

Outside the courtroom, his approach was less measured.

He presided at “de-baptism” ceremonies, dressed in a monk’s hooded robe and waving a whirring hairdryer labeled “Truth and Reason” over the bowed heads of atheist “converts.” He called meetings of American Atheists to order with a jovial “Welcome, sinners and blasphemers!” and sometimes had women in burqas sing “Back in Their Burqas Again” to the tune of the 1970s song “Stuck in the Middle With You.” He distributed peanut butter-smeared crackers in mock communion services he called “Swallow the Leader.”

In an interview in 2010 on the ABC News program “Nightline,” Mr. Kagin was asked if he felt hostility toward the religious beliefs of others — people whose beliefs, the reporter added, were doing him no harm.

“But they are doing me harm,” he shot back. “They’re doing harm to a great number of people. They’re saying that ‘what we’re doing is sacred and inviolate. We can do whatever we want to your rights. And you cannot react.’ ”

Edwin Frederick Kagin Jr. was born in Greenville, S.C., on Nov. 26, 1940, the youngest of three children of the Rev. Edwin Frederick Kagin, a Presbyterian minister, and Mary Stewart Kagin. Growing up, he logged “12 years of perfect attendance at church and Sunday school,” he told an interviewer. In later years he was known to quote the Bible flawlessly in debates with Bible-quoting believers.

Mr. Kagin graduated from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, taught high school English for several years and took a series of other jobs before deciding, as he neared 30, to attend law school. He graduated in the early 1970s from the University of Louisville School of Law.

Mr. Kagin’s suit to stop the Sept. 11 Memorial from displaying the steel-beam cross had its prelude in Utah, where he challenged the state’s placement of 12-foot-high crosses at locations where troopers had died in the line of duty.

In 2010, a federal appeals panel affirmed his argument that the memorial crosses were religious symbols and therefore violated the First Amendment prohibition against government establishment of religion. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal, letting the ruling stand.

A federal judge in New York, however, rejected his description of the World Trade Center cross as a religious symbol, calling it simply “an artifact,” even though it had been the site for daily prayers during the Sept. 11 cleanup.

In a hearing last month, Mr. Kagin asked a federal appellate court in New York to reverse that decision. That ruling is pending.

Besides his sister Mary and his son Stephen, Mr. Kagin is survived by another son, Eric; two daughters, Kathryn Kagin Cohan and Heather Kagan; a stepdaughter, Caroline Good; another sister, Roberta Stewart Kagin; and five grandchildren. His marriage to Sandra Graves, his children’s mother, ended in divorce in 1983. His second wife, Helen McGregor Kagin, died in 2010.

Mr. Kagin’s atheist beliefs, which he acquired in adulthood, strained relations with his father and later his son Stephen, who became a minister in the Christian Church of Kansas, part of the Disciples of Christ.

In a phone interview on Monday, Stephen Kagin said that although he and his father had loved each other, “we agreed to disagree on many things.”

The elder Mr. Kagin was asked in the “Nightline” interview about his son the minister. He replied with a smile, “Oh, one wonders where they went wrong.”

I am trying to work up the courage to do the last with my religious friends when they mention their child going on a mission or that they chose confirmation.

Wow, well, we all make mistakes.

Jim Newman, bright and well