Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Charlotte Mayor Issues Second Day of Reason Proclamation

Anthony Foxx, current Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina and President Obama's nominee to be the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation, recently issued his second proclamation of a National Day of Reason.

MORE: http://nationaldayofreason.org/2013/charlotte-mayor-anthony-foxx-issues-second-national-day-of-reason-proclamation/

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Anthony Foxx Declares Thursday 'A Day Of Reason,' Instead of Prayer, in Charlotte

Foxx takes heat over dueling proclamations about prayer, reason

Monday, April 29, 2013

Riverside pastor is chairman of Day of Prayer

"Our belief is it's not the job of government to call people to prayer," said Rob Boston, a senior policy analyst with Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "That's the job of the clergy. We're not a theocracy. We're a secular republic that allows all religions and endorses none. The people who run the National Day of Prayer don't understand that."

MORE: http://www.pe.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20130426-religion-riverside-pastor-is-chairman-of-day-of-prayer.ece

Memo To The Religious Right: You Don't Need The Government To Tell You When To Pray

Religious Right groups have hijacked the National Day of Prayer and use it to promote their controversial political agenda.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/memo-to-the-religious-right-you-don-t-need-the-government-to-tell-you-when

Atheist Civil Rights Group To Protest Prayers At Middletown Town Hall

On Thursday, May 2, at noon, a National Day of Prayer gathering will be held in Middletown City Hall, attended by Mayor Daniel Drew. American Atheists, a national organization dedicated to the total separation of church and state, will be protesting.

MORE: http://www.courant.com/community/cheshire/hcrs-74330hc-middletownshoreline-20130428,0,2507587.story

Faith-Healing Parents Arrested for Death of Second Child

A religious couple already on probation for choosing prayer over medicine in the death of their toddler son may be facing similar charges in the death of their newest child.

MORE: http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/faith-healing-parents-arrested-over-death-of-second-child-130424.htm

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2nd Child of Pa. Couple Dies After Only Praying

Parishioners describe chaos during stabbing spree at New Mexico church; suspect blames Masonic conspiracy

Capener told medical staffers that the Freemasons "tapped into the radio waves of the church’s microphones to send out their message" and the devil was communicating through the microphone whenever Alvarez sang or spoke, according to police.

MORE: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/29/17971041-parishioners-describe-chaos-during-stabbing-spree-at-new-mexico-church-suspect-blames-masonic-conspiracy?lite

Atheists Giving Aid Raises Money for Victims of West, Texas Explosion

We don't get to choose when tragedy strikes but it's up to us to help out the victims even when there are more every day. God's not going to fix anything.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/04/18/atheists-giving-aid-raises-money-for-victims-of-west-texas-explosion/

SOPA creator's latest bill proposes stripping peer-review from science funding

A draft bill obtained by Science Magazine‘s blog ScienceInsider, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), would strip the peer-review requirement from the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant process, inserting a new set of funding criteria that is significantly less transparent and not inclusive of the opinions of independent experts.


Anti-abortion bill notes have 'JESUS + Mary' message

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed sweeping anti-abortion legislation Friday, giving his state a new law to block tax breaks for abortion providers, ban sex-selection abortions and declare that life begins "at fertilization."

MORE: http://cjonline.com/news/2013-04-19/anti-abortion-bill-notes-have-jesus-mary-message

Humanists File Suit Against Public School that Held Christian Assemblies

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center learned from Northwest Rankin High School students that a mandatory assembly was held during school hours on April 9 where a representative of the Pinelake Baptist Church spoke of finding "hope" in "Jesus Christ."

According to students present, those who attempted to leave were prevented from doing so. At the end of the presentation, the speakers led the students in a Christian prayer.

MORE: http://www.americanhumanist.org/news/details/2013-04-humanists-file-suit-against-public-school-that-held

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Northwest Rankin High School Sued For Literally Forcing Students Into Religious Assembly

Mississippi Burning: School Officials Coerced Students Into A Revival Meeting -- And Now They're Being Sued

Bad Bill Backlash: Pennsylvania Lawmakers Face Criticism For Religious Resolutions

It seems like a handful of Pennsylvania legislators need to spend more time reading law books than Bibles.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/bad-bill-backlash-pennsylvania-lawmakers-face-criticism-for-religious

Pennsylvania Group Stands its Ground Against Atheist Attempts to Remove Ten Commandments

Thou Shall Not Move, led by Pastor Ewing Marietta of Liberty Baptist Church, was founded as an effort to help support the Connellsville School District after it was sued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) last year over a Ten Commandments monument on school property.

MORE: http://christiannews.net/2013/04/29/pennsylvania-group-stands-its-ground-against-atheist-attempts-to-remove-ten-commandments/

Rumble In Rutherford: Tenn. Sheriff Posts Commandments Display In County Jail

Sheriff Arnold’s blatant disregard for the First Amendment is the kind of thing that's just begging for a lawsuit, and it seems he needs to be taught a few lessons.


Extreme Education: Ron Paul Teams With 'Stoner' Gary North To Indoctrinate Home-School Kids

It's easy to dismiss Christian Reconstructionists as a bunch of loons, but their influence has been disturbingly widespread among the Religious Right.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/extreme-education-ron-paul-teams-with-stoner-gary-north-to-indoctrinate

Judge hears debate over education tax credits

The top issue: whether the law is constitutional. Article 83 of New Hampshire's constitution states "no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination."

MORE: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130426/NEWS04/130429310

Final vote on gay marriage bill Thursday

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Legislation to allow gay couples to marry in Rhode Island will probably be signed into law by the end of the week.

MORE: http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/local_news/providence/providence-final-vote-same-sex-marriage-bill

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Delaware House approves bill legalizing same-sex marriage, measure now goes to Senate

Gay Senator Comes Out As State Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Several states have bills coming up on their legislative dockets that would allow gay couples to legally marry in their states. Rhode Island’s Senate Judiciary Committee and Delaware’s House are both set to vote on same-sex marriage bills today. Minnesota and Illinois are also engaged in fights over whether to open up marriage to gay couples.

But the biggest news this week comes out of Nevada where Monday night the state Senate voted to repeal an amendment to the state Constitution banning gay marriage and replace it with one requiring Nevada to recognize the practice.


Boy Scouts proposal displeases religious leaders on both sides

(RNS) Conservative and liberal religious leaders may not agree on much, but both are expressing displeasure with the Boy Scouts’ proposal to accept gay members but reject gay leaders.

MORE: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/04/22/boy-scouts-proposal-displeases-religious-leaders-on-both-sides/

'Army of God' activist advocates the shooting of abortion providers: 'It will be a blessing to the babies'

DAVE Leach, 67,  a Des Moines anti-abortion activist who runs a small music store has publicly proclaimed that "it will be a blessing to the babies" if someone shoots the people who recently reopened a Kansas abortion clinic.


Why We Need to Understand the Apocalyptic Worldview of a Small Group of Radical Muslims

If we want to understand the genesis of much Islamic terrorism by a small handful of Muslims, a speculative tour of their apocalyptic worldview may help us design a more effective response.


'When in Rome': Monkeys Found to Conform to Social Norms

The human tendency to adopt the behaviour of others when on their home territory has been found in non-human primates.

MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142351.htm

Here's a first: Fish using sign language

Two types of fish have been shown to use gestures, or sign language, to help one another hunt. This is the first time these types of gestures have been found to occur in animals other than primates and ravens.

MORE: http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/29/17972118-heres-a-first-fish-using-sign-language?lite

First Snapshot of Organisms Eating Each Other: Feast Clue to Smell of Ancient Earth

Tiny 1,900 million-year-old fossils from rocks around Lake Superior, Canada, give the first ever snapshot of organisms eating each other and suggest what the ancient Earth would have smelled like.

MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429154107.htm

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Dinosaur Predecessors Gain Ground in Wake of World's Biggest Biodiversity Crisis

"Comet of the century" might cause a meteor shower

The "comet of the century" is expected to fly by the Sun in November, and as a result, the formation could create a meteor shower months later.

MORE: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57581850/comet-of-the-century-might-cause-a-meteor-shower/

World Thinkers 2013

After more than 10,000 votes from over 100 countries, the results of Prospect’s world thinkers 2013 poll are in. Online polls often throw up curious results, but this top 10 offers a snapshot of the intellectual trends that dominate our age.

MORE: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/world-thinkers-2013/

Christian man insists terminally-ill atheist 'sinner' will 'go to hell' for assisted suicide

An atheist woman with an incurable brain disease took her own life on Thursday in spite of Christians who insisted that she was a "sinner" and would "go to hell" if she went through with the assisted suicide.

MORE: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/26/christian-man-insists-terminally-ill-atheist-sinner-will-go-to-hell-for-assisted-suicide/

Canadian terror suspect decries charges in hearing

"First of all, my comment is the following, because all of those conclusions was taken out based on Criminal Code, and all of us we know that this criminal code is not holy book; it's just written by set of creations, and the creations, they're not perfect, because only the creator is perfect, so if we are basing our judgment ... we cannot rely on the conclusions taken out from these judgments," he told Hilton.

"It doesn't matter in this court," Hilton responded.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/24/world/americas/canada-terror-plot-thwarted/index.html

Atheist Sunday Church service seeks new home

London's first atheist Sunday church service has been kicked out from its venue, The Nave, by its landlord St Paul's Steiner School. That hasn't spoiled the fun though. The Sunday Assembly's next service, due to happen on May 5, is going ahead at Conway Hall instead.

MORE: http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2013/04/28/atheist-sunday-church-service-seeks-new-home/

Three Teens Starved, Tortured And Killed At Gay Conversion Camp

Three 'gay and effeminate' teens have died after being starved and tortured at a camp designed to turn them into 'men'.

MORE: http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/04/three-teens-starved-tortured-and-killed-at-gay-conversion-camp-2633300.html

French lawmakers approve same-sex marriage bill

If the measure is enacted, France would be the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/23/world/europe/france-same-sex-vote/index.html

Autistic Children Association Chair's Remarks Bring Controversy

An autistic children association chairperson's remarks on autistic children being atheist enraged families and caregivers across Turkey.

MORE: http://www.bianet.org/english/health/146067-autistic-children-association-chair-s-remarks-bring-controversy

Benghazi explosion damages police station

Over the past year, Benghazi, the birthplace of Libya's 2011 revolution, has been the scene of multiple attacks targeting security forces. Many of the attacks have been blamed on Islamist militants.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/27/world/africa/libya-violence/index.html?hpt=iaf_c2

Conflict in Buddhism: 'Violence for the sake of peace?'

While Buddhism is associated in the Western mind with pacifism, Buddhist nations such as Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have been engaged in vicious conflicts.

In Thailand, state security is now locked in an increasingly bloody civil war with the Muslim minority near its border with Malaysia, in Myanmar civil strife looms between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State and Sri Lanka has just concluded a protracted civil war with its Tamil minority.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/22/world/asia/buddhism-violence/index.html

Another pre-election bombing in Pakistan leaves 6 dead

On Sunday, at least eight people were killed as the Pakistani Taliban continued to attack candidates in that country's upcoming vote, police said.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/29/world/asia/pakistan-violence/index.html?hpt=ias_c2

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Suicide blast in Pakistan; at least 5 dead

Taliban kill 3 officers in spring offensive, vow more attacks

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban have launched their spring offensive, their annual spate of attacks targeting foreign bases, government officials and Afghan police, a Taliban spokesman said Sunday.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/28/world/asia/afghanistan-violence/index.html?hpt=ias_c2

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Taliban capture 10 after chopper makes emergency landing

Taliban storm Afghan police checkpoint; kill 6

Afghan girls' school feared hit by poison gas

25 dead, dozens wounded in Iraq car bombings

The longstanding bad blood between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq boiled Monday amid another round of attacks: the killing of 25 people and wounding of dozens more in five car bombings.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/29/world/meast/iraq-violence/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

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At least 14 killed in bombings, shootings in and near Baghdad

Iraqi leader sounds warning about sectarian strife

Iraq, on edge over violence, endures more bloodshed

Clash at Sunni protest in Iraq leaves dead and wounded

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Skeptic Presents: The Con Academy, Vol. 1

America Becoming Increasingly 'Post-Christian,' Research Shows

While most Americans refer to themselves as Christians, a study released Monday by Barna Group shows an upward trend in "post-Christian" beliefs and behaviors among the nation's adult population.


The research also discovered that each generation is more post-Christian than the one that came before it. Only 28 percent of seniors (ages 67 and greater) are considered post-Christian, as compared to 35 percent of Boomers (ages 48 to 66), 40 percent of Busters (ages 29 to 47) and 48 percent of Mosaics (ages 18 to 28). Kinnaman says this type of research could serve as a glimpse into the "spiritual, moral and social future" of the United States.

MORE: http://www.christianpost.com/news/america-becoming-increasingly-post-christian-research-shows-93967/#pPquq0XPw2wFVsee.99

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'Nones' watch their numbers swell

Here's Looking at You, Atheists: Interview with Stacey Speer of "Faces of Atheists"

Enter Faces of Atheists, a Tumblr that gives nonbelievers a space to submit their photo and some basic information to show that there's nothing shameful about being an atheist.

MORE: http://www.americanhumanist.org/HNN/details/2013-04-heres-looking-at-you-atheists-interview-with-stacey

Most Americans still favour separation of church and state

According to the polling of 1,000 people, 32% of adults said they would support a constitutional amendment that makes Christianity the official religion of the United States, with 52% preferring to keep church and state separated. On a more local scale, 34% would like to see Christianity as the official state religion in their own state, while 47% oppose such an idea.

MORE: http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/04/most-americans-still-favour-separation-of-church-and-state

Obama renews mandate of "faith-based council" and allows religious discrimination to continue

"It's a huge disappointment that five years later nothing has been done to address this problem," said Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. "It is unacceptable that religious institutions accepting taxpayer dollars are permitted to discriminate based on religious preferences with the federal funds."

MORE: http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/04/obama-renews-mandate-of-faith-based-council-and-allows-religious-discrimination-to-continue

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Secular groups say Obama exemptions for contraception rule are too lenient


Bill in Congress Would Allow Crosses on Federal War Memorials on Public Land, Giving Church-State Separation the Finger

After Boston Bombs, Atheists Denied Healing

But there is no excuse - no excuse whatsoever - for the divisive, exclusive, and insulting "interfaith" service which President Obama today attended alongside the dignitaries of Boston at Holy Cross Cathedral. The program is almost exclusively Christian, with nods given to Jewish and Muslim representatives. All the readings are from the Judeo-Christian tradition. There are prayers aplenty. The Processional is Praise to the Lord, Almighty.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/templeofthefuture/2013/04/after-boston-bombs-atheists-denied-healing/

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Godless in Boston mourn, too

'Atheists and humanists are the most discriminated groups in the country'

Todd Stiefel, founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation and a representative for the Secular Coalition for America, talks about using the money from the sale of his family’s company to advocate for atheists in U.S. politics.

MORE: http://current.com/shows/the-young-turks/videos/atheists-and-humanists-are-the-most-discriminated-groups-in-the-country

Catholic schools failing to keep up enrollment

Enrollment in Catholic schools nationwide declined almost 12% for the 2012-13 school year compared with five years ago, a National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) report says.


Since 2003 the number of students attending a Catholic school has fallen nearly 22%, according to NCEA's Annual Statistical Report on Schools, Enrollment and Staffing.

MORE: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/04/05/catholic-schools-failing-to-keep-up-enrollment/

AHA Signs Letter Supporting the Student Non-Discrimination Act

The American Humanist Association signed on to a letter, organized by People For the American Way, urging Congress to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act.


Appeals Court Hears Indy Atheist Group's Demand to Perform Marriages

A federal appeals court has taken up an Indianapolis atheist group's suit seeking the right to preside over wedding ceremonies.


Broken Arrow business says faith gets in the way of charity work

Davidson told FOX23 he's a Christian and he can't support atheist or agnostic views. Davidson said just a couple of weeks ago he agreed to raise cash for Camp Quest Oklahoma, a science camp.

MORE: http://www.fox23.com/news/local/story/Broken-Arrow-business-says-faith-gets-in-the-way/vAcwMQrIzUCFekpYFVA8xA.cspx

NC Government Prayer Resolution vs. a Resolution for Reason

Raleigh, North Carolina - Opposing HJR 599, the "Week of Prayer" bill passed last week in Raleigh, the Secular Coalition for North Carolina (SCNC), an advocacy group for secular citizens, has issued a counter measure, A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE NATIONAL DAY OF REASON AND A WEEK OF REASON FOR NORTH CAROLINA.

The resolution is in response to recent actions by the governor and lawmakers. Since the opening of the legislative session, they have put forth a number of bills and resolutions designed to showcase and promote specifically Christian religious beliefs, including permanent state license plates for church buses, Bible courses in public schools, establishment of Christianity as the official state religion, the "Week of Prayer" bill, and just this past Wednesday, three more bills promoting Christianity in the public sector.

"We think enough time has been wasted with religious grand-standing. The state is better served by redirecting these energies to creating jobs, providing health care, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, and balancing the state budget, to name a few," said Susanne Werner, SCNC Co-Chair, "They need to get off their knees and get back to work."

In addition to proclaiming a "North Carolina Week of Reason in conjunction with the National Day of Reason on May 2," the SCNC resolution accuses NC legislators of "flouting" and "working to undermine" the U.S. Constitution with these recently proposed bills and resolutions.

MORE: http://secular.org/files/nc_press_release.pdf

See also...



Opinion: NC "State Religion" bill part of a larger trend

Can North Carolina Declare an "Official" Religion?

What part of 'no law respecting an establishment of religion' does North Carolina not understand?

Sponsor of NC religion resolution apologizes


N.C. House lawmaker links Islamic prayer to terrorism

Plans finalized to put 'In God We Trust' on Anderson Co. courthouse

A committee has finalized plans to put the phrase "In God We Trust" on one county's courthouse. Commissioners approved a motion Monday that would put the phrase over the Anderson County courthouse's four entrances.

MORE: http://www.knoxvilletimes.com/index.php/sid/213699773/scat/a8d1772e8d5c87a8

Humanists Object to Christian Assembly at Public School

The American Humanist Association’s legal center strongly condemns an unconstitutional, mandatory and pervasively Christian assembly made by a Baptist church representative at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi, and demands that such an assembly never be held again.

MORE: http://www.americanhumanist.org/news/details/2013-04-humanists-object-to-christian-assembly-at-public-sch

Sex Scandal: Brave W. Va. Student Challenges Inaccurate Sexuality Lecture

A brave high school student has blown the whistle on a West Virginia public school's promotion of 'God's plan for sexual purity.'

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/sex-scandal-brave-w-va-student-challenges-inaccurate-sexuality-lecture

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High school student allegedly threatened by principal for protesting abstinence assembly

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Declare 'National Fast Day' to Honor God, Prayer, and Abraham Lincoln

The folks who brought you the Year of the Bible, a Day of Prayer, and Prayer Month are back with a resolution declaring it “National Fast Day.”

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/04/15/pennsylvania-lawmakers-declare-national-fast-day-to-honor-god-prayer-and-abraham-lincoln/

Pennsylvania City Council to Defy Atheist Demands to End Prayer at Monthly Meetings

Greenville, Pennsylvania – A city council in Pennsylvania plans to defy demands from an atheist activist organization to end invocations at their monthly meetings, reports state.


Greenville becomes the next city that has decided to buck the prominent atheist activist organization. As previously reported, in February, officials in Rapid City, South Dakota decided to stand their ground after receiving a letter demanding discontinuation of the its regular invocations.

MORE: http://christiannews.net/2013/04/19/pennsylvania-city-council-to-defy-atheist-demands-to-end-prayer-at-monthly-meetings/

North Miami allows free use of equipment for Day of Prayer

North Miami will allow free use of city space, equipment and staff to host a National Day of Prayer, but some are calling into question a conservative pastor’s role in the event.

MORE: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/12/3340397/north-miami-allows-free-use-of.html#storylink=cpy

Ohio Course Correction: Lawmakers Drop Plan To Penalize Sex Ed Teachers - At Least For Now

Ohio lawmakers tried to fine teachers up to $5,000 if they discuss certain kinds of sex education as part of the two-year state budget bill now under consideration.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/ohio-course-correction-lawmakers-drop-plan-to-penalize-sex-ed-teachers-at

Improper Influence: NYC Public Schools Bow To Church Rules On Sex Ed

Putting the dogma of a church ahead of the needs of public schools students is not being 'responsible.' In fact, it's an abrogation of responsibility.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/improper-influence-nyc-public-schools-bow-to-church-rules-on-sex-ed

Persecution Complex: Catholic Hierarchy, Religious Right Continue Heated Attack On Birth Control Mandate

These folks want to impose their theological views about birth control on other Americans who may not share those views.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/persecution-complex-catholic-hierarchy-religious-right-continue-heated

Alaska Senate passes bill to define 'medically necessary' abortion

After six years of silence on abortion, the Alaska Senate passed a bill Tuesday that aims to restrict state-funded abortions.

MORE: http://m.newsminer.com/news/local_news/alaska-senate-passes-bill-to-define-medically-necessary-abortion/article_8025b126-a1b1-11e2-9122-0019bb30f31a.html

Radical 'heartbeat' abortion bans aim straight for Roe

The so-called Women's Right to Know Act extends the state's insurance restrictions to keep women from paying for abortion through supplemental plans or medical savings accounts. It bars health professionals from speaking in schools if they work at clinics that provide abortions. It forces physicians to document elaborate efforts to convince patients that ending a pregnancy "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." It also requires doctors to warn women of bogus long-term health risks.

MORE: http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/04/08/the-new-heartbeat-abortion-bans-more-drama-than-danger 

Bobby's Bad-News Buds: Louisiana Gov. Jindal Is 'One Of The Family' At Religious Right HQ

Bobby Jindal knows better. The Louisiana governor majored in biology and public policy at Brown University, and he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. So why is he defending the teaching of religious concepts in public school science classes?

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/bobby-s-bad-news-buds-louisiana-gov-jindal-is-one-of-the-family-at

Paying The Piper: Mega-Church Hit With Property Tax Bill For Its Café, Gym And Bookstore

When the Tennessee State Board of Equalization said that the church would not receive a full property tax exemption for the entire center because portions of the space are not used for religious activity, CCP sued with assistance from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Religious Right legal outfit founded by radio and TV preachers.


U.S. court gives green light for Adventist's workplace discrimination trial

A Seventh-day Adventist school bus driver in the U.S. state of Louisiana has won the right from a federal appeals court to proceed with a workplace discrimination case over his observance of Sabbath.

MORE: http://news.adventist.org/archive/articles/2013/04/17/u.s.-court-gives-green-light-for-adventists-workplace-discrimination-trial

Falsehoods, By George!: Religious Right Seeks Retroactive Baptism Of America's First President

Because Washington is such a towering figure in our history, he has become the subject of much mythologizing and wishful thinking on the part of the Religious Right. Its leaders would like to claim him as one of their own. They're trying to retroactively baptize him.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/falsehoods-by-george-religious-right-seeks-retroactive-baptism-of-america-s

'Atheist Churches': Nonbelievers Find A Sunday-Morning Connection

Houston Oasis is part of a growing trend. Atheists and other nonbelievers have long gathered for events with meaning and music, but in the last year, a number of nontheistic groups have initiated Sunday morning events that include elements of a standard church service.

MORE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/atheists-churches-nonbelievers-find-a-sunday-morning-connection_n_3096949.html

Boy Scouts to consider lifting ban on openly gay youths

(CNN) -- The Boy Scouts of America would no longer deny membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation but would maintain its ban on openly gay adult leaders under a proposal it is considering, the group said Friday.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/19/us/boy-scouts-sexual-orientation/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1

Calif. to punish Scouts for gay ban

California lawmakers are considering taking some tax exemptions away from youth groups that do not accept gay, transgender or atheist members....

MORE: http://educationviews.org/calif-to-punish-scouts-for-gay-ban/

Conspiracy Road Trip: Creationism (new TV show/series)

There is a great new TV series titled "Conspiracy Road Trip". Comedian Andrew Maxwell presents his serious side as he takes 5 British "believers" on a road trip top confront their beliefs.

MORE: http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/4/11/conspiracy-road-trip-creationism-new-tv-show-series#

Just one more religion?

The birth of Kim Jong Il is said to have been foretold by a swallow and attended by miraculous signs, including a double rainbow and a brilliant star. He is also credited with more banal tokens of miraculous power, such as a record-breaking performance at golf. Whereas schools in some countries have chapels or mosques, places of instruction in North Korea have rooms set aside for learning about the achievements of the divinely guided dynasty. This cult has its sacred statues, its icons and martyrs--such as a girl who is said to have drowned while trying to save images of her leaders from a flood.

MORE: http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2013/04/venerating-kims

Review of The God Argument by AC Grayling

A new book has been published laying out the case against religion and for humanism. It's called "The God Argument: the Case Against Religion and For Humanism."

MORE: http://militaryatheists.org/news/2013/04/review-of-the-god-argument-by-ac-grayling/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=review-of-the-god-argument-by-ac-grayling

See also...

An Interview with A.C. Grayling

American Infidel: Robert Ingersoll Was the "Great Agnostic" of the (Last) Gilded Age

Susan Jacoby has done us a great favor by bringing Ingersoll and his times fully to life in a model short biography recently published: The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought. Secularism and feminism have been Jacoby’s own primary themes, making her Ingersoll's ideal biographer. Jacoby is unabashed in her admiration for her subject, and she has every reason to be a fan of someone who lived an entirely admirable life.

MORE: http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/atheologies/7011/american_infidel__robert_ingersoll_was_the__great_agnostic__of_the__last__gilded_age/

Review: The Bonobo and the Atheist, By Frans De Waal

Trawling through decades of research and observation, he describes all sorts of behaviour in bonobos, chimpanzees, and monkeys (as well as non-primates such as dogs, elephants and dolphins) which clearly indicate that they have a well developed sense of right and wrong. Time and again, experiments have revealed that primates understand the value of co-operation in specific tasks; that they have a strong sense of fair play, an awareness of the permanence of death, and use their own experience and imagination in order to empathise with others.

MORE: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/review-the-bonobo-and-the-atheist-by-frans-de-waal-8581418.html

See also...

Where morals come from

Monkey Calls Could Offer Clues For Origin Of Human Speech

Melissa Block talks with researcher Thore Bergman about his findings that a rare type of Ethiopian monkey, the gelada, makes a human-like sound that could offer insights into the evolution of human speech.

MORE: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/09/176713152/monkey-calls-could-offer-clues-for-origin-of-human-speech

Three Super-Earth-Size Planets Found in 'Habitable Zone'

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems that include three super-Earth-size planets in the "habitable zone," the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water.
MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418142948.htm

See also...

New Techniques Allow Discovery of Smallest Super-Earth Exoplanets


Hubble telescope takes stunning new nebula photo for 23rd birthday

Prof Peter Higgs: Atheist scientist admits he doesn't believe in 'god particle'

The scientist behind the Higgs boson, Prof Peter Higgs, has urged people to stop calling it the God particle because he's an atheist.

MORE: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9978226/Prof-Peter-Higgs-Atheist-scientist-admits-he-doesnt-believe-in-god-particle.html

Vatican To Hold Dialogue With Nonbelievers In Mexico

Pope Benedict XVI said in 2009 that he thought the Roman Catholic Church should hold such meetings so nonbelievers could get to know God.

MORE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/12/vatican-to-hold-dialogue-with-nonbelievers-in-mexico_n_3072410.html

Humanists in Ireland Can Say "I Do" Too

At a time when Ireland's beleaguered Catholic Church is losing adherents, the number of humanist wedding ceremonies conducted in 2012 increased by 30 percent from the year before. And this shift away from church-based ritualizing of life events includes not just weddings–humanist funerals and baby-namings have increased by even higher percentages.


Husband testifies his wife died after abortion was denied in Ireland

Praveen Halappanavar told the hearing in Galway that he was told that because Ireland is a Catholic country, an abortion could not be done while the fetus was still alive.


Australian inquiry into decades of child sex abuse

In late 2012, Australia was rocked by fresh allegations of Catholic clergy child sex abuse by whistleblower, New South Wales Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox.

MORE: http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/4/13/australian-inquiry-into-decades-of-child-sex-abuse#

Newly formed Atheist SA group wants 'balanced' debate

Atheism SA is the first active atheism group in South Australia in 40 years and will campaign for secular views to be heard on issues such as euthanasia, marriage equality, contraception and the teaching of ethics in schools, says the group's president, Brian Morris.

MORE: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/newly-formed-atheist-sa-group-wants-balanced-debate/story-e6frea83-1226625367122

Teacher claims he was sacked for atheist beliefs

A teacher claims he was forced out of Auckland's Tamaki College for being an atheist.

MORE: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10878447

New Zealand's Parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage

Local media report that the law is expected to take effect in four months.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/17/world/new-zealand-same-sex-marriage/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

French Senate backs same-sex marriage bill

The bill, to which 10 amendments were made in the Senate, must still go through a second reading in the National Assembly and a final reading in the upper house.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/12/world/europe/france-same-sex-marriage/index.html

Same-sex marriage bill awaits president's signature in Uruguay

Neighboring Argentina legalized such marriages in 2010.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/10/world/americas/uruguay-same-sex-marriage/index.html

Would you marry an atheist?

The results of the poll showed that 76 percent of Russian respondents were indifferent to whether a person was going to contract marriage with an atheist. Thirty-five percent of the polled said that they were not going to approve their child's marriage with an atheist.

MORE: http://english.pravda.ru/society/family/19-04-2013/124342-atheism-0/

Russian MPs back harsher anti-blasphemy law

Russian MPs have given initial approval to an anti-blasphemy law with tougher jail terms or fines for anyone found guilty of offending religious feelings.

MORE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22090308#

Austrian referendum seeks to end church privileges

The Tablet reports that the three main demands of the "Referendum Against Church Privileges" are "abolition of church privileges, clear separation of Church and State and terminating the gigantic state subsidies to the Church".

MORE: http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/04/austrian-referendum-seeks-to-end-church-privileges

Court sentences top pianist accused of tweets that insulted Islam

Classical concert pianist Fazil Say, 43, was found guilty of "openly insulting the religious values held by a portion of the public" for the tweets, which were posted last year.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/15/world/europe/turkey-pianist-twitter-sentence/index.html

Egypt satirist faces new probe

Cairo - Egyptian prosecutors are probing new complaints against popular satirist Bassem Youssef, this time for "insulting Pakistan" and "spreading atheism”, judicial sources told AFP....

MORE: http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Egypt-satirist-faces-new-probe-20130409

Dozens dead in Somali courthouse attack

At least nine members of the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab were also killed, the sources said. That group claimed responsibility for the attack.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/14/world/africa/somalia-violence/index.html?hpt=iaf_c2

Bangladesh's Islamists Call for Death of 'Atheist Bloggers'

The Islamist marchers listed 84 bloggers who they demand be arrested or hanged, In February an atheist blogger named Rajib was stabbed to death a month after blogger Asif Mohiuddin was nearly killed for his beliefs.

MORE: http://www.vice.com/read/bangladeshs-islamists-call-for-death-of-atheist-bloggers

See also...

On April 25, We Stand with Bangladeshi Bloggers and Activists

Worldwide Protests for Free Expression in Bangladesh


Bangladesh Islamists rally for blasphemy law

Taliban Threat Could Skew Pakistan Election Result

Moderate politicians from some of Pakistan's most violent areas are risking the threat of Taliban attack to run in upcoming nationwide elections, but they are increasingly being forced to rely on social media, phone calls and even short documentaries that allow them to campaign at a distance.


See also...

Pakistan candidate targeted, killed, official says

In a Taliban hotbed, a woman runs for Pakistan's parliament

Taliban Attack Kills 6 Afghan Police Officers

An official says Taliban insurgents have attacked a police checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, killing six officers.

MORE: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/taliban-attack-kills-afghan-police-officers-19009119

See also...

Road side bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan

13 Afghan soldiers killed in ambush, official says

Iraqis vote in local elections despite violence

The Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife in the region as well as Iraq was seen to be a major factor in the election and intimidation of voters.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/20/world/meast/iraq-elections/index.html

See also...

Iraq blast kills 2, wounds 22

Blast in popular Baghdad coffee shop kills at least 27

Deadly blasts, assassination strike Iraq before election

Deadly wave of bombings across Iraq ahead of elections

Bombs explode outside eastern Iraqi mosque, killing 7

Women challenge Orthodox practice at Israel's Western Wall

"The Wall belongs to all of us!" shouted Lesley Sachs, director of the activist group Women of the Wall, as she was led away by police officers, wrapped in a prayer shawl. An ultra-Orthodox heckler shouted:

"Get out of here! Don't desecrate this holy place. It isn't yours!"

MORE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-arrests-5-women-challenging-orthodox-practice-at-western-wall/2013/04/11/32a0161c-a2d3-11e2-be47-b44febada3a8_story.html

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Welcome to this World

National Atheist Groups Respond to Growing Incivility in Online Communities

In response to the increasingly hostile (and yet incredibly important) online atheist community, where we're seeing written attacks on anyone and everyone who ever disagrees with you about anything ever ("There's something wrong on the Internet!" syndrome), nearly two dozen leaders of national non-theistic organizations have joined together to release an open statement addressing the problem.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/04/02/national-atheist-groups-respond-to-growing-incivility-in-online-communities/

Atheist Leader Suggests Nonbelievers Follow Agenda of Pro-Gay Marriage Advocates

Herb Silverman, founder and president emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America, a widely-known atheist advocacy group, recently commended proponents of same-sex marriage for their efforts in promoting their cause, and suggested atheists take a similar approach to be more accepted by American society.

MORE: http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheist-leader-suggests-nonbelievers-follow-agenda-of-pro-gay-marriage-advocates-93276/

See also...

What atheists can learn from the gay rights movement

A Critic's Critique: Roger Ebert Gave 'Two Thumbs Up' To The Church-State Wall

Here's Ebert, a graduate of Catholic schools, on prayer in schools: "This is really an argument between two kinds of prayer -- vertical and horizontal. I don't have the slightest problem with vertical prayer. It is horizontal prayer that frightens me. Vertical prayer is private, directed upward toward heaven. It need not be spoken aloud, because God is a spirit and has no ears. Horizontal prayer must always be audible, because its purpose is not to be heard by God, but to be heard by fellow men standing within earshot."

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/a-critic-s-critique-roger-ebert-gave-two-thumbs-up-to-the-church-state-wall

Group Begins Series at UA to Inform Students About Atheism

Members of the secular student group Occam’s Razor started the week off with a fundraiser which they called "Stone an Atheist Day." The group set up on the Union Mall and students who donated one dollar were allowed to throw two water balloons at members of the group.

MORE: http://www.uatrav.com/2013/04/02/group-begins-series-at-ua-to-inform-students-about-atheism/

See also...

Arkansas Atheist Group Holds a 'Stone An Atheist' Fundraiser

North Carolina Won't Establish State Religion

It turns out North Carolina won’t be establishing its own religion after all. A resolution proposed this week by GOP state lawmakers that said the state has the right to declare an official religion will never come to a vote.

MORE: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/04/north-carolina-wont-establish-state-religion/

See also...

NC "State Religion" bill part of a larger trend


On religion, North Carolina boldly goes where the Constitution forbids

States' Rights And Religion: North Carolina Legislators Say U.S. Constitution Doesn't Apply To Them

Proposal would allow state religion in North Carolina

The Plague of Proposed Legislation by Religious Entities in the States: An Explosion in Foolhardy State Religious Liberty Proposals and a Sneaky Addition to the Pennsylvania Task Force's Legislative Proposals

In a development reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day, the insidious movement to permit religious believers to avoid the laws that govern everyone else has reached a new and truly disturbing level.


Profiting The Prophet?: Tenn. Legislators Fear Voucher Bill Will Subsidize Islamic Schools

During the legislators' debate over these proposals, some interesting developments occurred that underscore why vouchers are such a reckless form of public policy. Many Tennessee legislators were all for the plan -- until they realized that (gasp!) Muslim schools might qualify for the money too!
MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/profiting-the-prophet-tenn-legislators-fear-voucher-bill-will-subsidize

Ohio School: Jesus Portrait Has Been Taken Down

A Jesus portrait that has hung in a southern Ohio school district since 1947 was taken down Wednesday, because of concerns about the potential costs of a federal lawsuit against its display.

MORE: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/apnewsbreak-ohio-school-jesus-portrait-18869307#.UVxQslewdfg

Babies' herpes linked to circumcision practice

New York (CNN) -- Two more infants have contracted the herpes virus after undergoing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish type of circumcision, which has been linked to the spread of the potentially deadly virus to newborn boys, according to the New York City Health Department.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/07/health/new-york-neonatal-herpes/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

3 More Philly Priests Removed in Sex Investigation

Three more priests were permanently removed from ministry by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Sunday, including one whose accuser killed himself after his allegation was dismissed by church officials.

MORE: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/philly-priests-removed-sex-investigation-18903309

Listening to the Big Bang -- In High Fidelity

A decade ago, spurred by a question for a fifth-grade science project, University of Washington physicist John Cramer devised an audio recreation of the Big Bang that started our universe nearly 14 billion years ago.

Now, armed with more sophisticated data from a satellite mission observing the cosmic microwave background -- a faint glow in the universe that acts as sort of a fossilized fingerprint of the Big Bang -- Cramer has produced new recordings that fill in higher frequencies to create a fuller and richer sound.

MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404170154.htm

See also...

Shape from Sound: New Methods to Probe the Universe

Space station detector gives first clues to 'dark matter'

(CNN) -- Nearly two years after it was sent up to the International Space Station, a giant particle physics detector has provided its first results in the search for the mysterious "dark matter" believed to be a major component of the universe.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/04/world/europe/space-dark-matter/index.html

Schoolboy Finds 300 Million Year Old Fossil

An Oxford schoolboy has discovered what appears to be an extremely rare fossil of footprints from more than 300 million years ago.

MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407145835.htm

French Senate debates same-sex marriage bill

The lower house has already approved the legislation. If it passes the Senate, it would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade.

But the plan faces stiff opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, other religious groups and social conservatives, with huge numbers turning out for protest marches in Paris in recent weeks.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/04/world/europe/france-same-sex-marriage/index.html?hpt=ieu_c2

100,000 Bangladeshi Protestors Rallied To Demand The Execution Of Atheist Bloggers

Hefajat-e-Islam, an Islamic group which draws support from tens of thousands of seminaries, organized the rally in support of its 13-point demand including enactment of a blasphemy law to prosecute and hang atheist bloggers.

MORE: http://www.businessinsider.com/protestors-demanding-execution-of-atheist-bloggers-2013-4

See also...

Take Action: Support Imprisoned Atheist Bloggers In Bangladesh

Bangladeshi Islamists rally to demand action against atheist bloggers

Hifazat wants 'atheist' ministers removed

Bangladesh Arrests 'Atheist Bloggers,' Cracking Down On Critics

One killed at funeral after Muslim-Christian clashes

The violence in the city of Khosous, north of Cairo, broke out after Coptic Christians drew crosses on the walls of a Muslim school, angering members of the Muslim community, said spokesman Ahmed Osman.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/07/world/africa/egypt-clashes/index.html?hpt=iaf_c1

See also...

Official: 5 killed as Muslims, Christians clash in Egypt

Mobs storm newspapers in Baghdad

The angry mobs barged into the newspaper buildings, in the heart of bustling Baghdad. They smashed equipment, stole files, beat up guards and workers, and tossed one person from a roof.

The assaults, which unfolded simultaneously Monday, apparently stemmed from outrage over a story seen as critical toward a Shiite cleric in Karbala.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/02/world/meast/iraq-newspapers-attack/index.html

More rockets from Gaza irk Israel

The patter of rockets from Gaza into Israel continued Wednesday, according to Israeli authorities.

And an al-Qaeda linked group claimed responsibility for launches that occurred a day earlier.

MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/03/world/meast/mideast-gaza-rockets/index.html

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

An Open Letter to the Secular Community

It is an amazing time to be part of the secular movement. Look at what’s happened in 2012 alone. We held the Reason Rally, the largest event our community has ever had, which brought over 20,000 atheists, humanists, and other secular people together on the National Mall. We are growing, attracting new people, and drawing more attention than ever before. A big part of that growth is thanks to our large and dynamic online community. Online secular communities have helped people encounter new ideas, deepen and broaden their thinking, and even change their minds.

A Problem with Online Communication

At the same time, the fact that so much of our community is online brings with it certain challenges. Communicating primarily online can make it difficult to recognize each other’s humanity. Online we don’t have the same vocal and physical cues to tell us what another person means by his or her comments, so it’s easier for misunderstandings to develop. The instantaneous and impersonal nature of online communication also makes it much easier for these misunderstandings to escalate, or for civil arguments to turn into bitter fights. Like many online communities, our comment and forum threads all too often become places for name calling and even threats, rather than honest dialogue based on mutual respect. Between the small but vocal number of abusive participants (often called “trolls”) who hurl threats and insults, and the overheated rhetoric of some ordinarily friendly and reasonable people, our online environment is in danger of turning toxic. Fortunately, our secular values of reason and compassion give us tools to rise above the lowest common denominator of online communication.

Our Position and Our Pledge

We, the leaders of the undersigned national secular organizations, pledge to make our best efforts toward improving the tone and substance of online discussions. The secular movement as a whole is friendly, welcoming, and committed to the use of reason and evidence as a means of resolving disagreements. We refuse to allow the deplorable conduct of a few to debase the reasonable, appropriate, and respectful conduct of the overwhelming majority of our community.

We seek to promote productive debate and discussion. We firmly believe open and candid discussion is the most reliable means of resolving differences of opinion and bringing about needed change.

Insults, slurs, expressions of hatred, and threats undermine our shared values of open and candid discussion because they move us away from an exchange of views supported with reasons.

Of course we will disagree with each other on some issues, but we can do a better job of expressing our disagreements. We can resolve to avoid mischaracterizing the positions of others, relying on rumors as the basis for our opinions, and using inappropriate tactics such as guilt by association. Instead, we can give one another the benefit of the doubt, strive to understand the whole story, and de-escalate rhetoric to foster more productive discussions. We can become better at disagreeing by treating each other like reasonable human beings.

It takes patience to educate people, but we can change how people think by having a constructive dialogue. If that weren’t the case, we wouldn’t bother in the first place to communicate online about important issues.

The Debate over Sexism and Feminism

Before listing some specific recommendations regarding improvement of online communications, we have observations about one particular set of interrelated issues that has engaged much of the secular community in the past year, namely sexism within the secular movement, the appropriate way to interpret feminism, and the extent to which feminism, however interpreted, should influence the conduct, policies, and goals of movement organizations. This set of issues is worthy of careful consideration, but in a few areas our positions should be very clear.

The principle that women and men should have equal rights flows from our core values as a movement. Historically, there has been a close connection between traditional religion and suppression of women, with dogma and superstition providing the rationale for depriving women of fundamental rights. In promoting science and secularism, we are at the same time seeking to secure the dignity of all individuals. We seek not only civil equality for everyone, regardless of sex, but an end to discriminatory social structures and conventions – again often the legacy of our religious heritage—that limit opportunities for both women and men.

Unfortunately, the discussion of these issues has suffered from the same problems that plague online discussion in general—although arguably to a greater extent. Some blogs and comments actually exhibit hatred, including rape threats and insults denigrating women. Hatred has no place in our movement. We unequivocally and unreservedly condemn those who resort to communicating in such a vile and despicable manner.

Our Approach

Here are some things that we plan to do to make our online secular community a place where we can exchange ideas and views instead of insults. We hope that others may also find this approach useful.

Moderate blogs and forums.
Any organization or individual engaged in blogging or administering a forum has an obligation to moderate comments. Slurs, threats, and so forth beget more of the same. Keeping our online spaces free of these elements creates a civil climate that makes it much easier for people to engage issues productively.

Go offline before going online: pick up the phone.
When you hear that an organization or member of our community is doing something that you think is wrong or bad for the community, call and talk with them, find out what they are actually doing and why they are doing it. If you don’t have a phone number, send a private email and arrange a time to talk. So much of the time there’s more to the story, and talking to another person on the other side of the issue can help us more fully understand the situation. Plus, a phone call makes it easier for people who are making mistakes to change course, because they aren’t on the defensive as they would be after being called out publicly.

Listen more.
We miss the nuances and differences within “the other side” once an issue becomes polarized, while continuing to see our side as filled with nuance and distinctions. There is a tendency to stop listening and treat everyone associated with an opposing position as a monolithic group. People can be painted with views that aren’t their own just because they may disagree with some aspects of your own position. We should listen more so we can see distinctions among those with opposing views and start to move toward a more accurate understanding of the issues rather than being deadlocked into two entrenched camps.

Dial down the drama.
It’s tempting to overuse inflammatory and derogatory rhetoric. It gets attention. We should be cautious about using this tactic within our community because of the long-term damage it does to relationships and morale. When critiquing people within our community, everyone should remember that our goal is to persuade our allies to see our perspective and modify their opinions. Insults don’t change opinions; they harden them.

Be more charitable.
We should remember that the purpose of argument within our community is to come to shared and correct conclusions that move us forward, not to score points against the opposing side. To that end, we should apply the principle of charity, which tells us to aim our argument against the best interpretation of the opposing arguments rather than picking off weaker versions. By applying the principle of charity we will elevate the discussion so we’re actually talking about our real differences, not just engaging in a pointless exchange.

Trust but verify.
Before we believe and repost something we see, we should ask ourselves about the evidence provided and the context. It’s easy for multiple people saying the same thing to look like a lot of evidence, but if their statements are all based on the same original source, they do not constitute independent verification. We should look for the original data and corroboration from independent sources before believing and spreading claims.

Help others along.
We should remember that we weren’t born knowing the things we know now. To get to the reasoned conclusions that we’ve reached, we learned by reading, thinking, and talking with others. When we encounter someone espousing a view we think is based on lack of knowledge or experience, we should remember that we have all held ill-informed views. We should cultivate patience and try to educate instead of condemn.

By improving our online culture, we can make this movement a place that engages, fulfills, and welcomes a growing number and increasing diversity of secular people.


David Silverman, President, American Atheists
Rebecca Hale, President, American Humanist Association
Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association
Chuck VonDerAhe, President, Atheist Alliance of America
Richard Haynes, President, Atheist Nexus
Ayanna Watson, CEO, Black Atheists of America, Inc.
Mandisa L. Thomas, President, Black Nonbelievers, Inc.
Mynga Futrell, for Brights Central, at The Brights' Net
Amanda Metskas, Executive Director, Camp Quest
Ronald Lindsay, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry
Tom Flynn, Executive Director, The Council for Secular Humanism
Jan Meshon, President, FreeThoughtAction
Joseph McDaniel Stewart, Vice President, FreeThoughtAction
Margaret Downey, Founder and President, Freethought Society
D.J. Grothe, President, James Randi Educational Foundation
Stuart Jordan, President, Institute for Science and Human Values
Jason Torpy, President, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Edwina Rogers, Executive Director, Secular Coalition for America
August E. Brunsman IV, Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance
Todd Stiefel, President, Stiefel Freethought Foundation
Fred Edwords, National Director, United Coalition of Reason