by Zachary Moore
My attention was first drawn to the Dallas Morning News in the summer of 2009, when their erstwhile religion editor Rod Dreher published an article critical of the nascent Camp Quest Texas, of which I was an enthusiastic supporter. Rather than research the organization, Dreher had simply and grossly mischaracterized the camp as an atheistic anti-God indoctrination system for little kids. Incensed, I contacted Dreher and scolded him personally for drawing unsupported conclusions that were designed to denigrate, rather than to understand. The myopathy Dreher had displayed in regards to secular humanism was profound, but I felt this was echoed in the lack of any humanist perspective in the News’ “Texas Faith” blog, for which Dreher was a managing editor.
The Texas Faith blog was formed of a panel of participants from across the state of Texas and a diverse array of religious backgrounds. The group included several Christian Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, as well as a Unitarian and a Wiccan. I pointed out to Dreher that diven the wide diversity of the blog participants, not having a secular humanist was actually a logical oversight. Dreher disagreed, but offered to seek the opinions of his managing editors, and also to seek the opinion of the other blog participants. Soon after, Dreher left the News to join the John Templeton Foundation, an organization that seeks to promote the collaboration of religion and science.
In the spring of 2011, I grew tired of waiting for the News to invite a secular humanist participant to their blog, and so I invited myself. Repeated inquiries to the News’ editors were met with ambiguous replies; William McKenzie, the editorial columnist who remains the primary manager of the blog, would neither agree nor disagree with my point that a secular humanist opinion was wanting. He urged patience, which I mustered, but as it waned I began composing my own replies to his weekly questions, and posting them in the comments section. McKenzie was apparently comfortable with that arrangement, and made no further effort to address the glaring hole in his blog’s coverage.
Eventually, I tired of waiting patiently, and decided to make my concerns public. I spoke with the Dallas Observer, who has covered the issue here. The News’ current position is that secular humanism shall not be given equal representation on the Texas Faith blog. In response to this position, I have created an online petition at Change.org, which you can find here.
I’ve also created this blog, which features some of the best and brightest secular humanists, atheists, freethinkers, and skeptics throughout the state of Texas. Each week we’ll respond to the same questions posed to the DMN Texas Faith blog participants, and we’ll also use this forum to draw attention to other pressing concerns for secular humanists both within and without the borders of the Lone Star State.