Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rape Victim Jailed - Denied Contraceptives On Religious Grounds

TAMPA - A 21-year-old woman told police Saturday that a man grabbed her off Howard Avenue and raped her behind a building during the Gasparilla festivities.

But officers investigating the case arrested her after learning she had an outstanding warrant from her teenage years for failure to pay restitution.

She spent the next two nights in jail.


Adding to the mother's ire is her claim that a jail nurse prevented her daughter from taking a second dose of emergency contraception prescribed by a nurse at a clinic as part of a rape examination. The jail nurse, said the mother and the victim's attorney, denied the medication for religious reasons.


Evangelical: Can The 'E-word' Be saved?

Who's an evangelical? Until last year the answer seemed clear: Evangelical was the label of choice of Christians with conservative views on politics, economics and Biblical morality.

Now the word may be losing its moorings, sliding toward the same linguistic demise that "fundamentalist" met decades ago because it has been misunderstood, misappropriated and maligned.

"Save the E-Word," was the headline on a fall editorial in Christianity Today, the 50-year-old magazine founded by Billy Graham. It quoted opinion polls in England and the USA showing "the tide has gone out" on the term, increasingly seen as negative and extremist. "When I travel, I call myself a 'creedal Christian' now," says Francis Beckwith, president of the Evangelical Theological Society and a professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.


PNG Women Accused Of Sorcery Murdered

Police in Papua New Guinea say four women, believed by fellow villagers to have used sorcery to cause a fatal road crash, have been tortured with hot metal rods to confess, then murdered and buried standing up in a pit.


Zeus Makes A Comeback

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A clutch of modern pagans honored Zeus at a 1,800-year-old temple in the heart of Athens on Sunday -- the first known ceremony of its kind held there since the ancient Greek religion was outlawed by the Roman Empire in the fourth century.


Religion's Rules Bar Transfusion

OTTAWA, CANADA - Canada's first sextuplets, born more than a week ago, are facing an additional complication to the usual premature baby's struggle for survival: Their parents' religion forbids blood transfusions, a typical part of a preemie's treatment.


British Muslims At Crossroads

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNN) -- At a recent debate over the battle for Islamic ideals in England, a British-born Muslim stood before the crowd and said Prophet Mohammed's message to nonbelievers is: "I come to slaughter all of you."


Mom Who Threw Sons Into Bay Convicted

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A mother who claimed she was sacrificing her young sons for God by tossing them to their deaths in San Francisco Bay was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder.


Evangelist Sued For Claiming That God Heals

A televangelist with a large following across the United States is being sued by relatives over her claim that prayer cured her brother's throat cancer.

Darlene Bishop's claims appear in her book, Your Life Follows Your Words, which fails to mention that her brother, the songwriter Darrell "Wayne" Perry, died of the disease 18 months ago.

Mr Perry's four children have filed a lawsuit against their aunt for wrongful death, claiming that she persuaded him to stop chemotherapy and to depend instead upon God's healing.


Robertson Predicts 'Mass Killing'

In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicted Tuesday that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007.


"Letter To A Christian Nation" Reviewed

God help us when faith silences reason

Controversy Over Congressional Oath Misplaced

Would someone please send Dennis Prager -- and his Townhall compatriots -- a copy of the Constitution?


Dawkins' Visit To Lynchburg, VA

The whole thing lasts about an hour.

Watch it all HERE.

Park Service Can't Give An Official Age For The Grand Canyon

Due to pressure from Bush Administration officials, the National Park Service is not permitted to give an official age for the Grand Canyon. Additionally, a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood is for sale at the National Park's bookstore.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Poll: Religion Does More Harm Than Good

More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension - greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.


The Blasphemy Challenge


"The Blasphemy Challenge" Rewards Participants For Demonstrating Non-Belief On YouTube

Los Angeles -- December 18, 2006. As part of its ongoing War on Christmas, the Rational Response Squad has launched a $25,000 campaign to entice young people to publicly renounce any belief in the sky God of Christianity.

Called "The Blasphemy Challenge," this campaign encourages participants to commit what Christian doctrine calls the only unforgivable sin -- blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (The "Holy Spirit" is an invisible ghost who Christians believe dwells on Earth as God's representative.)

Participants who videotape their blasphemy and upload it to YouTube will receive a free DVD of the hit documentary THE GOD WHO WASN'T THERE (, which normally sells for $24.98. Beyond Belief Media, the distributor of THE GOD WHO WASN'T THERE, has donated 1001 DVDs to the Rational Response Squad for The Blasphemy Challenge.

More than 160 participants have already blasphemed the Holy Spirit and earned free DVDs during the pre-launch phase of the Blasphemy Challenge. Their videos can be viewed at:

While anyone can participate in The Blasphemy Challenge, the Rational Response Squad is focused on reaching a young demographic. To publicize The Blasphemy Challenge to young people, today the Rational Response Squad begins an online advertising campaign focused on 25 sites popular with teens such as Xanga, Friendster, Boy Scout Trail, Tiger Beat, Teen Magazine, YM, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen.

Find out more at:


The Rational Response Squad addresses irrational emergencies of all kinds, especially the ongoing emergency created by religious faith. What started in February 2005 as a popular internet radio show has since blossomed into an activist group with 21,000 members, seven regional chapters and a fast-growing youth division organized at

The Squad focuses on debunking false claims, publicizing the work of atheists and skeptics, and directly engaging the faithful with the goal of converting them to reason. The Squad's War on Christmas also includes initiatives to give free THE GOD WHO WASN'T THERE DVDs to Christians who request them as well as covert operations that plant DVDs in Christian churches. See:


BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE did it to the gun culture.

SUPER SIZE ME did it to fast food.

THE GOD WHO WASN'T THERE does it to religion.

A #1 bestselling independent documentary at, THE GOD WHO WASN'T THERE holds Christianity up to a bright spotlight and asks the questions few dare to ask. Starting off by exploring the case that Jesus never actually existed, the movie goes on to examine other aspects of the Christian religion through interviews with Richard Dawkins, author Sam Harris, historian Richard Carrier and many others. Los Angeles Times: "Provocative -- to put it mildly." See:


UPDATE: NBC News story on The Blasphemy Challenge

Dawkins And Harris Book Reviews

The Harper's Review of Dawkins: HERE

The rebuttal of the Harper's Review: HERE

Another attack on Dawkins: HERE

A middle-of-the-road semi-defense of Dawkins: HERE

A favorable review of Dawkins and Harris: HERE

Spinning Science

We know from a multi-year series of findings that the administration of President George W. Bush has systematically manipulated science to comply with ideology - and satisfy the political agenda of his right-wing base.


A Free-for-All On Science And Religion

Maybe the pivotal moment came when Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, warned that "the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief," or when a Nobelist in chemistry, Sir Harold Kroto, called for the John Templeton Foundation to give its next $1.5 million prize for "progress in spiritual discoveries" to an atheist - Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist whose book "The God Delusion" is a national best-seller.

Or perhaps the turning point occurred at a more solemn moment, when Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and an adviser to the Bush administration on space exploration, hushed the audience with heartbreaking photographs of newborns misshapen by birth defects - testimony, he suggested, that blind nature, not an intelligent overseer, is in control.

Somewhere along the way, a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., which might have been one more polite dialogue between science and religion, began to resemble the founding convention for a political party built on a single plank: in a world dangerously charged with ideology, science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told.


Online videos from the Beyond Belief forum can be found HERE.

I loved this quote:

"Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization."

- Dr. Steven Weinberg

Gov. Perry Believes Non-Christians Doomed

Gov. Rick Perry, after a God and country sermon attended by dozens of political candidates Sunday, said that he agreed with the minister that non-Christians will be condemned to hell.


Think Tank Will Promote Thinking

Concerned that the voice of science and secularism is growing ever fainter in the White House, on Capitol Hill and in culture, a group of prominent scientists and advocates of strict church-state separation yesterday announced formation of a Washington think tank designed to promote "rationalism" as the basis of public policy.

The brainchild of Paul Kurtz, founder of the Center for Inquiry-Transnational, the small public policy office will lobby and sometimes litigate on behalf of science-based decision making and against religion in government affairs.


Bush's Marriage Brokers Take Another Hit

Americans United lawsuit seeks to block taxpayer money from being used by faith-based organizations to promote marriage.


Not A Trivial Error

If you were told that Liberty University taught that San Francisco was twenty-eight feet from New York you wouldn't believe it. So when Richard Dawkins learns that Liberty University teaches its students something equally absurd, that dinosaurs are a few thousand years old, he offers some sound advice.


Elton: Religion Breeds Gay Hatred

In a magazine interview, the singer said religion lacked compassion and turned people into "hateful lemmings."


Faith-Based Program Could Be Target Of Democratic House

"What the Republicans and various members of the Republican constituency really fear is that a Democratic Congress will use its investigative machinery to look into the dealings between Republican politicians and faith-based groups," said Johns Hopkins University political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg. Millions of taxpayer dollars have gone to religious groups through faith-based programs established by executive order, not legislation. Ginsberg said those grants include many instances of fraud and "money laundering. A few hours of digging will uncover a lot of dirt."


Pastor Ted's Confession

"The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life."


Pastor Will Shut Down Controversial Kids Camp

The summer camp featured in the documentary "Jesus Camp," which includes scenes with disgraced preacher Ted Haggard, will shut down for at least several years because of negative reaction sparked by the film, according to the camp's director.


Haggard Sex Scandal

Haggard, 50, immediately resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group for about 45,000 conservative churches, and within days was fired by New Life in Colorado Springs, Colo. In a letter read Sunday at New Life services, he did not address the specifics of Jones' claims, but confessed he was guilty of "sexual immorality."


A Country Ruled By Faith

The right wing in America likes to think that the United States government was, at its inception, highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical. That was not true of that government or any later government - until 2000, when the fiction of the past became the reality of the present.


Red State Babylon

If the blue states are sinkholes of moral decay, as right-wing pundits insist, how come red states lead the nation in violent crime, divorce, illegitimacy, and incarceration, among other evils?


Study: 42% Of US Adults Are Not 'Absolutely Certain' There Is A God

A new study of U.S. adults finds that 42 percent are not "absolutely certain" there is a God, but only 1 percent believe that God could be female. An online Harris Poll also finds that 15 percent are "somewhat certain" God exists, while 11 percent think there is probably no God and 16 percent said that they weren't sure.


While Most U.S. Adults Believe In God, Only 58 Percent Are 'Absolutely Certain'

Multinational surveys have often reported that Americans are much more likely to believe in God than people in most other developed countries, particularly in Europe. However, a new Harris Poll finds that 42 percent of all U.S. adults say they are not "absolutely certain" there is a God, including 15 percent who are "somewhat certain," 11 percent who think there is probably no God and 16 percent who are not sure.


Atheist Evangelist

There are really just two possibilities for Sam Harris. Either he is right and millions of Christians, Muslims and Jews are wrong. Or Sam Harris is wrong and he is so going to hell.


The Flying Spaghetti Monster

Why are we here on earth? To Richard Dawkins, that's a remarkably stupid question. In a heated interview, the famous biologist insists that religion is evil and God might as well be a children's fantasy.


Evangelicals Fear The Loss Of Their Teenagers

Despite their packed megachurches, their political clout and their increasing visibility on the national stage, evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves.


Atheists Among Us

No doubt about it; we live in Godtown. Orlando is so chockablock with piety that most of us don’t even notice it anymore, let alone raise a voice of a dissent should we not happen to believe as the majority believes.


The New Naysayers

In the midst of religious revival, three scholars argue that atheism is smarter.


Plan B Whoppers From The Religious Right

Go ahead and supersize it, because on the subject of emergency contraception, the Religious Right churns out more than enough whoppers with cheese to go around.


Seeking Entry-Level Prophet

The help-wanted ad had the whiff of a practical joke. "Documentary will pay you $5,000 to start your own religion," it said. "No exp. necessary."


Evangelical Conversion-for-Parole Program Thwarted

A Bush-funded prison initiative that fast-tracked parole for Christian converts has been swatted down in the federal courts.


Many Americans Uneasy With Mix Of Religion And Politics

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted July 6-19 among 2,003 adults, finds that most Americans (59%) continue to say that religion's influence on the country is declining, and most of those who express this view believe that this is a bad thing.


Christian Coalition Losing Chapters

Three disgruntled state affiliates have severed ties with the Christian Coalition of America, one of the nation's most powerful conservative groups during the 1990s but now buffeted by complaints over finances, leadership and its plans to veer into nontraditional policy areas.


The Joys Of Life Without God

Skeptics Society founder Michael Shermer explains why Darwin matters, how believing in God is the same as believing in astrology, and why it doesn't take divine faith to experience something bigger than ourselves.


Atheists In Foxholes

There are no atheists in foxholes," the old saw goes. The line, attributed to a WWII chaplain, has since been uttered countless times by grunts, chaplains and news anchors. But an increasingly vocal group of activists and soldiers - atheist soldiers - disagrees. "It's a denial of our contributions," says Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, who founded the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and who will be deployed to Iraq this fall. "A lot of people manage to serve without having to call on a higher power."


Judge Allows Ten Commandments Monument

A federal judge on Friday said a Ten Commandments monument outside a courthouse can stay, rejecting arguments that it promotes Christianity at the expense of other religions.


GAO Report Stings Bush's Faith-based Initiative

Well, the results are in on the president's Faith-Based Initiative and it doesn't look good for Team Bush. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has affirmed what many critics of President Bush faith-based initiative have long asserted: too many religious groups that have received government grants have been mixing religious activities with their social work; and the government has not yet established a concrete process to monitor grant recipients to see if they are being effective.


White House Asks Supreme Court For Ruling On Church-State Lawsuits

The Bush Administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether taxpayers can file lawsuits over presidential actions that they believe illegally intrude on the boundary between church and state.


Non-Christians Need Not Apply

Thanks to President Bush and his plan to Christianize the nation's provision of social services, one's relationship with Jesus Christ has become a real resume booster. As author Michelle Goldberg reports in her new book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, Bush has ushered in affirmative action for the born-again.


Neocon Catholics Target Mainline Protestants

When President George W. Bush met with religious journalists in May of 2004, the religious authority he cited most often was not a fellow United Methodist or even another Protestant. It was a man the president affectionately calls "Father Richard." He is Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus, who, the President explained, "helps me articulate these [religious] things" (Time, 2005). A senior administration official confirmed to Time magazine that Neuhaus "'does have a fair amount of under-the-radar influence' on such policies as abortion, stem-cell research, cloning and the defense-of-marriage amendment" (Time, 2005).


Kansas Evolves

Last week the intellectual winds buffeting Kansas' state Board of Education began blowing in a moderate direction again. In a closely watched primary, moderate Republicans captured one seat from a conservative incumbent and replaced another who was retiring from the board. Both departing members have been advocates of the state's anti-evolution science standards.


Direct Mail Kingpin's Hateful Connection

A year after attempting to capitalize on the Terri Schiavo case, Response Unlimited's Philip Zodhiates has taken to peddling anti-Semitic mail lists to conservative groups.


Funding Antiabortion Bunk

If you're willing to lie, deceive and intimidate others for your beliefs, the Christian Right needs you to staff the nation's Crisis Pregnancy Centers. A new congressional study exposes what goes on in these centers for what it is: religiously grounded antiabortion stagecraft designed to lure vulnerable, pregnant women and use lies to scare them out of ending their pregnancy. So what is the government doing funding them?


Faith-based Prison Program Shut Down

After serving time in prison for Watergate-related crimes, Charles W. Colson embraced Christianity, founded Prison Fellowship Ministries (website) in 1976, and has since become a high profile, well-respected and oft-quoted Christian conservative leader. Over the past several years, Colson's InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) has partnered with prison authorities in several states, including Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri, to provide prisoners with a Christ-centered rehabilitation program.


Holy War

Using his best-selling book, Jerusalem Countdown, his internationally broadcast television program, and the viral marketing offered by a network of mega churches whose pastors have signed on to his new lobbying effort, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), Hagee has spent the past six months mobilizing popular support for a war with Iran. Based on his end-times prophecy, a supposed love of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, and false claims that Iran is just months away from a viable nuclear weapon, Hagee maintains that confrontation with Iran is necessary to fulfill God's plan for the future of the world.


Bringing The Church To The Courtroom

A 29-foot war memorial shaped like a cross should be allowed to remain on public land. A teacher should be able to emphasize references to God in the Declaration of Independence. Protesters should be permitted to approach women near the doors of an abortion clinic. These courtroom fights and dozens of others pending across the country belong to the portfolio of the ambitious Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium. It spends $20 million a year seeking to protect what it regards as the place of religion -- and especially Christianity -- in public life.


God's Sugar Daddy

While the philanthropic community has been abuzz about recent reports that billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the world's second wealthiest man, will be giving a large part of his $44 billion fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), a less well-known Texas billionaire, James Leininger, has allocated his millions for different purposes: He's dedicated a large chunk of money to insuring that the religious right maintains its dominance over the Texas political landscape.


Private Dorm At UW To Have Religious Focus

Adding another wrinkle to the growing range of housing options at UW-Madison, leaders of the Pres House today will hold a ceremonial ground breaking for a $17 million private dorm aimed at helping students explore their faith.


Tyranny Of The Christian Right

Whenever I talk about the growing power of the evangelical right with friends, they always ask the same question: What can we do? Usually I reply with a joke: Keep a bag packed and your passport current. I don't really mean it, but my anxiety is genuine. It's one thing to have a government that shows contempt for civil liberties; America has survived such men before. It's quite another to have a mass movement -- the largest and most powerful mass movement in the nation -- rise up in opposition to the rights of its fellow citizens. The Constitution protects minorities, but that protection is not absolute; with a sufficiently sympathetic or apathetic majority, a tightly organized faction can get around it.


Federal Grant Rules In The Courts

In a victory for nonprofit advocacy rights, a sweeping restriction on the privately-funded speech of nonprofits that participate in the U.S. government's international HIV/AIDS program has been held in violation of the First Amendment. Meanwhile, a challenge is being mounted against an OMB grading system allegedly used to encourage an increase in government funding to religious charities.


The Battle Cry Of G.I. Jesus

Gary DeMar stated he'd execute gays only if they were caught indulging in sodomy, but others envision sinners in line for the death penalty would include women who commit adultery or lie about their virginity, blasphemers, witches, children who strike their parents, and gay men. Thus, DeMar is considered somewhat of a liberal in this extreme authoritarian movement.


School Board Backs Off On Bibles

Expecting a vote on the second reading of a controversial religious materials policy, the people who crowded into the lobby of the Brunswick County Board of Education administrative offices last Thursday were surprised when the school board voted to table the decision.


Supreme Court Asked To Rule In Challenge Against Bush Faith-Based Initiative

Can an ordinary citizen sue the federal government because the President of the United States acted in a way that the taxpayer believes conflicts with the constitutional provision separating church and state? Last week, a succinct answer proved elusive.


VA Sued On Religion In Hospitals

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in federal district court Wednesday against the Veterans Health Administration, alleging the VA's use of religion and spirituality in medical treatment violates the constitutional right to religious freedom. By including spiritual services in its standard patient care, the foundation alleges, the VA is using tax dollars to endorse and promote religion. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Madison.


Rights Group Lobbies Board

The Brunswick County Board of Education may have acted on faith earlier this month by moving forward with a policy to allow religious groups to hand out scripture to high school students. But leaders of two politically active civil rights groups believe the board has committed something akin to legal blasphemy.


Group Calls Foul On Benefit Game

A benefit game featuring the five senior members of the University of Iowa basketball team Wednesday at West High turned controversial after team members opted to donate a portion of the proceeds to a tornado-ravaged Iowa City church. The Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wis., said donating some of the proceeds to help rebuild St. Patrick's Catholic Church would have been "an unlawful taxpayer subsidy of Roman Catholicism."


A Captive Audience For Salvation

America's largest for-profit prison corporation has raised hopes - and constitutional issues - by inviting Evangelical Christian groups to run residential programs.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Study Of The Therapeutic Effects Of Intercessory Prayer

Intercessory prayer is widely believed to influence recovery from illness, but claims of benefits are not supported by well-controlled clinical trials. Prior studies have not addressed whether prayer itself or knowledge/certainty that prayer is being provided may influence outcome. We evaluated whether (1) receiving intercessory prayer or (2) being certain of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with uncomplicated recovery after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.

Patients at 6 US hospitals were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: 604 received intercessory prayer after being informed that they may or may not receive prayer; 597 did not receive intercessory prayer also after being informed that they may or may not receive prayer; and 601 received intercessory prayer after being informed they would receive prayer. Intercessory prayer was provided for 14 days, starting the night before CABG. The primary outcome was presence of any complication within 30 days of CABG. Secondary outcomes were any major event and mortality.

In the 2 groups uncertain about receiving intercessory prayer, complications occurred in 52% (315/604) of patients who received intercessory prayer versus 51% (304/597) of those who did not (relative risk 1.02, 95% CI 0.92-1.15). Complications occurred in 59% (352/601) of patients certain of receiving intercessory prayer compared with the 52% (315/604) of those uncertain of receiving intercessory prayer (relative risk 1.14, 95% CI 1.02-1.28). Major events and 30-day mortality were similar across the 3 groups.

Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.


Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions The Power Of Prayer

Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found. And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.


Study Calls Prayer For Sick People Ineffective

Praying for other people to recover from an illness is ineffective, according to the largest, best-designed study to try to examine the power of prayer to heal strangers at a distance. The study of more than 1,800 heart bypass surgery patients found that those who had other people praying for them had as many complications as those who did not. In fact, one group of patients who knew they were the subject of prayers fared worse.


The Dangers Of Religious Fervor In Politics

In a rare public outing in which he took spontaneous questions, President Bush was asked last week in Ohio whether he had a biblical view of the war in Iraq and saw it as an apocalyptic struggle for the Middle East. "The answer is, I haven't really thought of it that way," Bush responded. "First I've heard of that, by the way. I guess I'm more of a practical fellow."


Survey: U.S. Trust Lowest For Atheists

Atheists are America's least trusted group, according to a national survey conducted by University sociology researchers. Based on a telephone survey of more than 2,000 households and in-depth interviews with more than 140 people, researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, homosexuals and other groups as "sharing their vision of American society." Americans are also least willing to let their children marry atheists.


Pastor John Hagee Spearheads Christians United For Israel

Although charismatic televangelist Pastor John Hagee thinks that the Rev. Pat Robertson's suggestion that Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was payback from God for withdrawing from Gaza was "insensitive and unnecessary," he nevertheless appears to share Robertson's concern that Israel may be giving up too much land to the Palestinians. To prevent the Bush Administration from ramrodding the Israelis into turning over even more land, Hagee, the pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church, and the head of a multi-million dollar evangelical enterprise, recently brought together 400 Christian evangelical leaders -- representing as many as 30 million Christians -- for an invitation-only "Summit on Israel." The result was the launching of a new pro-Israeli lobbying group called Christians United for Israel.


Groups Battle Over UW Student Funding For Catholic Booklets

The University of Wisconsin Roman Catholic Foundation has been awarded nearly $150,000 of student segregated fees through the Associated Students of Madison. This decision was made after months of appeals over whether the student group could fund a religious organization.


Foundation Protests Student Fees For Catholics

The organization working to keep church and state separate wants U-W Madison to stop giving student fee money to the Roman Catholic Foundation.


Watching Where The Dollar Drops

Since 1978, the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has tried to draw a very strict line between church and state. The most recent incarnation of that pursuit has come in the form of preventing federal dollars from falling into the hands of faith-based initiatives.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Judge Rules Against 'Intelligent Design'

A Pennsylvania school district cannot teach in science classes a concept that says some aspects of science were created by a supernatural being, a federal judge has ruled.


Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District

Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Case No. 04cv2688, was the first direct challenge brought in United States federal courts against a public school district that required the presentation of "Intelligent Design" as an alternative to evolution as an "explanation of the origin of life". The plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy thus violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.


Societies Worse Off With God

Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today. According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.


Religious Belief & Societal Health

It is commonly held that religion makes people more just, compassionate, and moral, but a new study suggests that the data belie that assumption. In fact, at first glance it would seem, religion has the opposite effect. The extensive study, "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies," published in the Journal of Religion and Society examines statistics from eighteen of the most developed democratic nations. It reveals clear correlations between various indicators of social strife and religiosity, showing that whether religion causes social strife or not, it certainly does not prevent it.


Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion....


Richard Dawkins Interview

Dawkins is the world's most famous out-of-the-closet living atheist. He is also the world's most controversial evolutionary biologist. Publication of his 1976 book, "The Selfish Gene," thrust Dawkins into the limelight as the handsome, irascible, human face of scientific reductionism. The book provoked everything from outrage to glee by arguing that natural selection worked its creative powers only through genes, not species or individuals. Humans are merely "gene survival machines," he asserted in the book.


Red State vs. Blue State Morality

The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1. But don't take the US government's word for it. Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group. George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states. More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates. The Associated Press, using data supplied by the US Census Bureau, found that the highest divorce rates are to be found in the Bible Belt. The AP report stated that "the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people." The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.