The Humanist

The Humanist is a magazine focusing on critical inquiry and social concern from a humanist perspective. Published by the American Humanist Association, The Humanist covers everything from science and religion to politics and popular culture.

Articles from Vol. 73, No. 2, March-April

An Unholy Alliance: Private Prisons and the Christian Right
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Imagine, if you will, a meeting of the CEOs, board members, and stockholders of all the for-profit prison corporations in the United States. The CEOs unanimously agree to sign a contract with Soldiers for Jesus, a consortium...
Blasphemy, Free Speech, & Rationalism: An Interview with Sanal Edamaruku
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] SANAL EDAMARUKU is a world-renowned author and rationalist currently facing a maximum sentence of three years in prison plus fines for criticizing the Catholic Church. As president of the Indian Rationalist Association, he...
Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment
Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment by Janet Heimlich (Prometheus Books, 2011) 397 pp.; $20.00 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] A long time ago I used to be a Roman Catholic, and in those days we talked a lot about...
Compassion for the Religious
"These people bring it on themselves." "Their hijinks should be held up as an example." "We can't be soft on these people." These are some of the reactions I got when I posted a piece of news on my Facebook page and wrote my commentary about...
Death & Data: What Should the Punishment Be for a Crime That's Often Benign in Nature and Consequence?
This past January Aaron Swartz, a brilliant young computer programmer and activist, committed suicide after apparently being harassed for over a year by federal prosecutors. Swartz, the twenty-six-year-old who helped develop the social news site Reddit...
Editor's Note
APPRECIATING this issue's cover illustration, I found myself wondering if super-naturalists would wonder why God wasn't pictured up top. If God is the ultimate judge, after all, he's also the supreme sentencer. When it comes to belief in such a...
Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday!
Every Day is an Atheist Holiday! by Penn Jillette (Blue Rider Press, 2012) 288 pp.; $25.95 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Penn Jillette, the resonant half of the magic duo Penn & Teller, is the master of meander. A carny in love with the...
Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind
Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind by Alex Stone (Harper/HarperCollins, 2012) 301 pp.; $26.99 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Dear reader, this is your lucky day! I can teach you how to steal...
Humanist Profile: Robert "Bob" McCoy (1927-2010)
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Robert McCoy was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Wilson and Dorothy McCoy. He served briefly in World War II and later graduated from Washington University, St. Louis. McCoy settled in Minnesota and made...
Never a Magic Bullet: The Personal and Public Dimensions of Gun Ownership and Gun Violence
My father, a volunteer police officer, kept a .44 Magnum under lock and key in the drawer beside his bed. This is the gun made famous by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry films, along with the line: "Go ahead, make my day." By the age of twelve I had...
Prison Piety: No Taxpayer-Funded Evangelism Behind Bars
My first job in Washington, DC, was editing a trade magazine for the men and women who worked in the corrections industry. This was the mid-1980s, and I recall that back then some in the field were absolutely convinced that the best way to rehabilitate...
Prohibition & Humanism
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] "POT'S LEGAL!" declared the Seattle Times in large print on November 7, 2012, while that same day the Denver Post ran the headline: "FIRED UP." As two states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, an ancient debate...
Rethinking Drug Policy Assumptions
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] THE SO-CALLED war on drugs has lasted more than four decades and increasing numbers of people are convinced that it is not only unwinnable but also misguided. From foreign policy to domestic policy to drug treatment, U.S....
Teaching Criminology to Prison Inmates
Fourteen men--age thirty to sixty and clad in white, serving prison terms ranging from ten to thirty years for violent crimes--sit in a classroom discussing crime and punishment. When asked if they are willing to discuss the impact of their crime and...
The Lives of Others
Until I met a young woman from Kabul, Afghanistan, named Tabasum, I'd nearly given up on finding my cause. My only child, Lili, had just left for college, and I felt at a loss with no one depending on me. My late husband Gregory and I had adopted Lili--then...