Thursday, January 12, 2017

The God Distraction, Chapter Four: Morality

Fewer Americans are practicing religion

A staggering 21 percent of those surveyed said they don’t practice a “formal religion” — up from the 15 percent who said that in 2008, according to Gallup.


Nonreligious Americans Remain Far Underrepresented In Congress

One in five Americans is religiously unaffiliated. Yet just one of 535 members of the new Congress is.


Belief in God plunges after torrid year

Atheism surges as Brits stop saving a prayer for a higher power.

Joplin School District suspends Bible study at North, other middle schools

The Joplin School District has suspended a middle school Bible study that had come under fire from a national organization -- but only because it was out of compliance with school board policy, not because it was deemed unconstitutional by district officials.


Tennessee bill: Put 'In God We Trust' on state license plates

NASHVILLE - A bill filed Wednesday in the House would require all state license plates to carry the phrase "In God We Trust."


Dark matter has decreased since the Big Bang: Study

"The amount of dark matter in the era of hydrogen formation and today will be different," said researcher Dmitry Gorbunov.


Monday, June 20, 2016

A Norwegian Journalist's Look at Church/State Separation in the U.S.

Norwegian journalist Even Gran spent a year in the U.S. not too long ago and he used the opportunity to dive into our nation's problems with church/state separation. He spoke with a couple of the students I've written about extensively on this site -- Jessica Ahlquist and Damon Fowler -- and the result is his book Rise of the Seculars.


Buy the book HERE

Pharisees And Sadducees: The Religious Right Reacts To Orlando By Doubling Down

This rhetoric is obviously extreme, but it's also not new.


Thousands of atheists gather in DC for 'Reason Rally'

Thousands of atheists turned out Saturday on a muggy Washington day to take part in "Reason Rally," dedicated to boosting the political power of the growing number of non-religious Americans.


See also...

'Reason Rally' Highlights Non-Religious Voting Bloc 

An Atheist Singer Humiliated on Ecuador's Got Talent Found Redemption at the Reason Rally

The Godless Descend on DC for The Reason Rally

The Political Ascension of the Nonbelievers

Rev. Graham to 'Reason Rally': Atheists Will Stand Before the God They Disown and May Face Eternity in Hell

The Catholic League's Bill Donohue is Angry That "Good for Nothing" Atheists Are Gathering in D.C.

Pictures from the event can be found HERE.

A local recording of the event is below. The official video with all speakers and performers will be released later.

Southern Baptists lost 200,000 members over the past year

Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention declined by more than 200,000 from 2014 to 2015, down to 15.3 million members.


See also...

Evangelicals feel alienated, anxious


Religious Right Is Losing Influence

Iowa Governor Steps Into A Tangled Web Of Church And State With Proclamation Encouraging Bible Study

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation in April encouraging "all Iowans" to participate in a statewide Bible-reading marathon, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa argues the declaration is unconstitutional.


See also...

Iowa governor attempting to impose Christianity as state government's religion, say rights groups


Humanist Group Condemns Iowa Governor's Proclamation Promoting Christian Scripture

Public Schools Across The Country Are Violating The Separation Of Church And State

A conservative Christian non-profit, Focus on the Family works to promote right-wing values in public policy, including gay conversion, intelligent design creationism, and opposition to certain types of birth control. According to their website, they provide "resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God's design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles." It's astonishing that the organization has somehow become a go-to resource on so many different topics for some public schools and even local governments, especially given the legal status quo which mandates the separation of church and state.


Catholic church accused of using 'mafia-like' tactics to fight sex abuse bill

Pennsylvania church accused of using 'mob boss approach' to pressure lawmakers who support bill giving victims of abuse more time to sue abusers.


Earlier: Priest banned for molesting girl gets a new job as director of teen pregnancy center

Texas County with Crosses on Police Cars Will Pay Atheist Group More Than $22,000 in Settlement

Brewster County (Texas) Sheriff Ronny Dodson is one of the many, many government officials to put "In God We Trust" stickers on all the vehicles in his department. But rather than pretending it was just an act of patriotism and saying it's just our national motto, Dodson made clear this was all about promoting Christianity.


CA School District Owes Atheist Groups $10,000 After Censoring Their Scholarship Offers

This was anti-atheist prejudice, plain and simple.


California Highway Patrol Officers Caught Proselytizing to Homeless People While On Duty

Police officers shouldn't be in the business of converting the very people they're trying to help. Churches may not see a difference between converting and protecting, but it's very obvious to those of us who reject religion.


LISA Pathfinder Reports Record-Breaking Gravitational Wave Results

The successful technology demonstration paves the way for detecting mergers of supermassive black holes with future space-based observatories.


8.8 billion habitable Earth-size planets exist in Milky Way alone

Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone. 


IBM Creates A Molecule That Could Destroy All Viruses

One macromolecule to rule them all, from Ebola to Zika and the flu.


Secularist Activists Are Being Murdered in Bangladesh: An Ongoing Crisis Causes Many to Flee

If you've seen any news headline on Bangladesh in Western media over the past 15 months, odds are strong the headline included the phrase "hacked to death": Writer hacked to death outside a book fair. Blogger hacked to death on his way to work. LGBT activists hacked to death in their apartment.


See also: Bangladeshi Police Arrest More Than 3,000 People To Prevent Further Attacks on Atheists and Others

Monday, May 30, 2016

Nonreligious Americans March to Capitol Hill Ahead of Historic Rally

Washington, DC - On June 2-3, more than three hundred nonreligious Americans will march to Capitol Hill. Hosted by the Secular Coalition for America, nontheist Americans from across the country will meet with members of Congress as part of the Reason Rally Advocacy Days.

Participants will lobby their representatives in support of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (REHYA), which would eliminate all federal funding for abstinence only education and reallocate the money to support evidence-based sex education. The Advocacy Days precede the Reason Rally on June 4th, when tens of thousands of nontheists will assemble on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to voice their support for science-based public policy and the separation of church and state.


Proud Godlessness Grips Our Transportation System

The organization has a new advertising campaign on Metro trains, Bikeshare bikes, PTRC commuter buses, and garages that say "I'm an Atheist and I Vote" before the forthcoming Reason Rally at the Lincoln Memorial on June 4 and the D.C. Democratic Primary on June 14. The ads will run through June 6. 


Women Are Leaving Church, And the Reason Seems Clear

Why have women stopped going to church? It isn’t because they're too busy or too well educated. Maybe they stopped going when conservative politics took over the pulpit.


University of Miami Establishes Chair for Study of Atheism

With an increasing number of Americans leaving religion behind, the University of Miami received a donation in late April from a wealthy atheist to endow what it says is the nation's first academic chair "for the study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics."


State-Mandated Mourning for Aborted Fetuses

A new Indiana law is part of a wave of legislation that requires burial or cremation following abortions. What's behind it?


Catholic church audit shows spike in sex abuse reports

The audit, released on Friday, showed that 838 people came forward from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, to say they had been sexually abused by priests, deacons or members of religions orders while they were children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.


Republican Prayed Gays Are 'Worthy of Death' Before Vote on Bill With LGBT Protections Amendment

GOP Congressman Led Weekly Meeting Quoting Anti-Gay Bible Passages – No Apologies From Any Republican.


In Oregon, Three Non-Religious Candidates Won Their Primaries for the State House

The candidates received endorsements from the Freethought Equality Fund last month after coming out publicly as non-religious.


Ohio school district has "teach the controversy" evolution lesson plan

Teaching document is a mix of standard material and creationist claims.


Despite What the Media Says, Going to Church Doesn't Necessarily Lead to a Longer Life

Saying that the answer to longer life is church attendance falls far outside the scope of this study's findings, and it's not an honest summary of the data it presents.


People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales – study

Proportion of population who identify as having no religion rose from 25% in 2011 to 48.5% in 2014, surveys show.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Religion Declining, Secularism Surging

An ongoing spate of recent studies - looking at various countries around the world - all show the same thing: religion is in decline. From Scandinavia to South America, and from Vancouver to Seoul, the world is experiencing an unprecedented wave of secularization. Indeed, as a recent National Geographic report confirms, the world's newest religion is: No Religion. 


Major atheist rally scheduled in D.C.

Thousands of atheists and their allies are expected to converge on Washington, D.C., next month for a "Reason Rally." The first Reason Rally, held in D.C. in 2012, attracted about 20,000 people in the rain, according to organizers.


Study Calls On Obama to Withdraw Legal Memo That Allows Faith-based Charities to Discriminate

The paper published by Columbia University is signed by a coalition of 15 prominent legal scholars across the country.


The Other Shoe Drops: North Carolina and Mississippi Both Face Federal Lawsuits for Anti-LGBT Laws

"No matter how isolated, how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today, note this -- the Department of Justice and indeed the entire Obama Administration want you to know: we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to support you going forward."


Tom DeLay: People keep forgetting that God 'wrote the Constitution'

"I think we got off the track when we allowed our government to become a secular government," DeLay explained. "When we stopped realizing that God created this nation, that he wrote the Constitution, that it's based on biblical principles."


Sunday, May 08, 2016

Recent News Highlights

Americans Growing-Up Without Religion Tend To Be Less Authoritarian And More Compassionate

Here's What Being Good Without God Actually Means

Hacked to death for unbelief: The rise of atheist persecution
See also...
A map of countries where you can be killed for being an atheist

Promoting abstinence, fidelity for HIV prevention is ineffective

As the Religious Right Forces the Gospel Into Public Schools, Some Parents Are Opting to Homeschool

Arkansas school planning to bus students to a local church during school hours for National Day of Prayer

Salvation Army Cancels Conference Promoting Child Marriage

North Carolina says it will defy Justice Department over LGBT law: 'We're not going to get bullied'
See also: 
US Justice Department: HB2 violates federal Civil Rights Act

Anti-LGBT Activists 'Testing' Target By Sending Men Into Women's Rooms
Bible-Bearing Anti-LGBT 'Christians' are Entering Target Stores and Terrorizing Customers

Congressional Republicans Attach North Carolina-Style Discrimination To Defense Budget

Ex-priest gets 20-40 years in prison for sexual assault

Judicial Tyrant Roy Moore Is Suspended For His Obstruction of Alabama Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Here Are Aerial Images of Ken Ham's Ark Under Construction. Notice Anything Un-Biblical?

0.0% of Icelanders 25 years or younger believe God created the world, new poll reveals

Sean Carroll on the universe, naturalism and finding meaning without God

What Neuroscience Says about Free Will

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Our New Freethought Action Hero!!!

Earlier today, Lisa Pedersen was presented with the FREETHOUGHT ACTION HERO AWARD at the 7th Annual Orange County Freethought Alliance Conference. 

Lisa Pedersen

Lisa Pedersen is an ambassador, educator, advocate, and a humanist. She is a co-founder and former board member with the secular non-profit organization Friends of Freethought. She also founded the Women's Secular Group of Southern California, which hosts an Adopt-A-Family outreach within secular communities. 

She raises awareness and educates the public on matters such as morality, the history of freethinkers, and activism. She does this in person and online, helping people access reference materials. She attends outreaches to educate the public as an example of what an atheist and humanist is. 

Lisa is also involved in many community service projects, raises money for orphanages, helps orphans and homeless children to receive free dental care, and in two years raised over $25,000 for Project Hope. 

Lisa Pedersen became the fourth person to be presented with this award. 

To see more about previous award winners, click HERE

Christians to flock to massive atheist rally in D.C.

Call it resistance with love. A massive gathering of atheists taking place in Washington, D.C., will now face some concerted counterpointing, thanks to the rally call of one church in California for those of Christian faith to travel to the freethinkers' scene to try and change hearts.


The Reason Rally is coming soon!

June 4, 2016

Visit the site here:

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Norwegian Would

You may recall the NC statewide "One Nation Indivisible" billboard campaign FreeThoughtAction organized over the 4th of July holiday in 2010, with six billboards in six cities from the mountains to the sea….

Several months ago, I was contacted by journalist Even Gran from the Norwegian Humanist Association. He asked to use one of the pictures I had taken of the billboard on the Billy Graham Parkway for the cover of his new book about American secularism. I said "Yes!"

Well, the book is out now. Even kindly sent me a signed copy. Here's what it looks like…

It is currently only available in Norwegian HERE.

He says it will soon be out in an English version.

While I’m on the subject…

Several months ago, I made this video about the “One Nation Indivisible” billboard campaign. It has a little over 5 minute overview of what happened at the beginning, then it includes about 25 minutes of some of the television news coverage we received, ending with the ABC World News Tonight coverage. 

National Day Of Reason Is Coming Up Soon!

A consortium of leaders from within the community of reason endorsed the idea of a National Day of Reason. This observance is held in parallel with the National Day of Prayer, on the first Thursday in May each year.

This year it's coming up on May 5, 2016.

Visit the website for the National Day of Reason where you can endorse reason, send a proclamation, sign a petition, find out about events and government actions, and learn more about it. You might even consider organizing your own event!


More News...

Missouri 'Religious Freedom' Bill Defeated In House Committee Vote

Ted Cruz Under Fire Over Adviser Who Wants Abortion Providers To Be Executed

26 states urge appeals court to uphold Md. cross ruling

Lafayette schools to rethink Pledge of Allegiance policy

Defying "In God We Trust" Trend, Arkansas Police Department Puts "We the People" On All Vehicles

Lawmaker introduces resolution extolling reason 

Congressman Wants A 'National Day Of Reason' As Atheist Alternative To Day Of Prayer

Two Lawmakers Want National Day of Reason as Alternative to National Day of Prayer