Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Herb Silverman - SCA Lobby Day 2014

Atheist Groups Are Forming All Over New Mexico

If you're anywhere near any of those groups, pop in for a visit at their next gathering and meet some like-minded activists!

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/29/atheist-groups-are-forming-all-over-new-mexico/

See also...

Godless Groups Go Public Across New Mexico


Godless Groups Go Public Across Atlanta

Study: Young Latinos losing faith

Nearly a third of Latino adults under 30 don't belong to a faith group, according to a large survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.  That's a leap of 17 percentage points in just the last three years.

MORE: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/07/study-young-latinos-losing-faith-in-religion/

See also...

The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States

North America's Ex-Muslims Speak Out [Muftah (MENA)]

Although this phenomenon has not been investigated in-depth, there is "anecdotal evidence" of Muslims in North America leaving Islam, beginning with disengagement from the community, said Sameera Ahmed, a clinical psychologist from Columbus, OH and director of the Family and Youth Institution.

MORE: http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2014/06/18/7881652.htm

How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

Using the Internet can destroy your faith. That's the conclusion of a study showing that the dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use.

MORE: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/526111/how-the-internet-is-taking-away-americas-religion/

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Is the Internet killing religion?

Religion declines in well-run, trusting societies

In his new book, Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict (Princeton University Press), Norenzayan describes how Western Europe and Scandinavia have created strong and fair societies – in which the vast majority are not actively involved in religion.

MORE: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2014/04/26/religion-declines-in-well-run-trusting-societies/

Atheists emerging from the shadows

Nonbelievers encourage others to come 'out of the closet'

MORE: http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts/religion/atheists-emerging-from-the-shadows-20140614

See also...

One life: the positive message of atheism

Bible Society Relabels 'Antagonists' As 'Skeptics'; Hardcore Doubters Are Now As Numerous As True Bible Lovers

People who dismiss the Bible as just a bunch of man-made stories are now as numerous as those who are so enamored of the Good Book that they read it at least four times a week.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/11/bible-society-relabels-antagonists-as-skeptics-hardcore-doubters-are-now-as-numerous-as-true-bible-lovers/

The decline of biblical literalism and the rise of secularism in one chart

The poll, which measured Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, found that 28 percent of Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God -- close to the lowest point ever found in the survey.

About 40 percent of Americans said the same thing in the late 1970s.

MORE: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/06/05/decline-literalism-rise-secularism-one-chart/

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Three in Four in U.S. Still See the Bible as Word of God

America's changing view of Bible in 2014: For better or worse?

Over the past three years, the percentage of those who are skeptics or agnostics toward the Bible has almost doubled, up from 10 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2014. Skeptics are defined as those believing that the Bible is just another book of stories and teachings written by men. This dramatic rise has now tied the percentage of Americans (19 percent) who are engaged in the Bible – those who read it at least four times per week and believe it to be the actual inspired Word of God. Since the tracking of this statistic began, this is the first time Bible skepticism has rivaled engagement.

MORE: http://www.onenewsnow.com/culture/2014/04/22/americas-changing-view-of-bible-in-2014-for-better-or-worse#.U7HO7kvD-Uk

Religion Has No Answer for Sectarianism

As a practical matter, by the late seventeenth century, it was apparent that neither Catholicism nor Protestantism could swipe the other away through the sword. More importantly, certainly in the long run, Enlightenment philosophy, and with it the view that all humans have a right to certain fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, slowly began to have an influence. This was a secular philosophy and it gave birth to the first secular state, namely the United States.

MORE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronald-a-lindsay/religion-ethics-sectarianism_b_5521258.html

The Myth of a 'War on Religion'

Last week, the Public Religion Research Institute published a study showing that Americans want their fellow citizens to think they are more religiously observant than they really are.

MORE: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/05/the-myth-of-a-war-on-religion/371438/

Grief Beyond Belief Now Has a Website!

Three years ago, Grief Beyond Belief was launched — an online support group for grieving non-believers. It was started as a Facebook group, but while that format worked well for quote a while, the group has become larger, with a wider variety of needs, than a Facebook group could really manage. Also, plenty of people who needed and wanted the service don't use Facebook.

MORE: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2014/06/24/grief-beyond-belief-now-has-a-website/

See also...

A New Website for Atheists Who Have Suffered the Death of a Loved One

Grief Beyond Belief

N.J. atheist group is leaving a mark on nationwide campaign

There's a new round-the-clock television channel. There are new atheist organizations. And there are recent lawsuits alleging that atheists have been subjected to discrimination in school and in everyday life.

MORE: http://www.northjersey.com/news/n-j-atheist-group-is-leaving-a-mark-on-nationwide-campaign-1.1031540

See also...

Atheist TV: Coming soon to a television near you

Atheism channel coming to television in July

Atheists to launch the first TV channel dedicated to godlessness

Two Atheist Charities Merge to Have a Greater Impact in Times of Need

"This merger is a positive move that will grow the relief efforts of the humanist community," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "The end result will be more money directed to charitable activities, dispelling the false claim that nonbelievers don't give to charity."

"This merger is a great way to enhance the ability of the freethought community to respond quickly and well to major humanitarian crises," said Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief. "We are always looking for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our work."

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/06/04/two-atheist-charities-merge-to-have-a-greater-impact-in-times-of-need/

See also...

Humanist Charities and Humanist Crisis Response Announce Merger

Foundation Beyond Belief Raises $900,000 for Cancer Cures Through Light The Night

Atheists Do Good Works, Too

Seattle Atheists has been an educational nonprofit organization for a decade. In addition to hosting social events and lectures and being a popular presence at local street fairs, Seattle Atheists members have participated as a group in disaster relief fundraising, assisting the local NPR pledge drive, holiday gift wrapping for charity, blood drives, and more.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/06/atheists-do-good-works-too/

Announcing the "Openly Secular" Coalition

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and other secular groups have joined together to form a new coalition called Openly Secular to highlight and overcome discrimination in America.

MORE: http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2014/4/29/announcing-the-openly-secular-coalition

See also...

Why Are the Openly Secular Openly Disdained?

New 'Openly Secular' group seeks to combat anti-atheist discrimination

Americans Intuitively Judge Atheists as Immoral

New research finds a link between disbelief and unethical behavior is strongly lodged in Americans' minds.

MORE: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/americans-intuitively-judge-atheists-immoral-79095/

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Everything Is Permitted? People Intuitively Judge Immorality as Representative of Atheists 

Even an Increasingly Godless America Doesn't Trust an Atheist to Run the Country

Atheists are one of the fastest growing groups in the world. At the same time, the latest Pew poll shows that they’re the most distrusted group in America, and Americans would be less likely to support a Godless presidential candidate than an unfaithful or a pot-smoking one.

MORE: http://time.com/109050/a-nation-of-growing-atheists-still-wouldnt-trust-one-to-run-the-country/

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Atheism Top Negative for Potential Candidates

Half of Americans don't want atheist in-laws

When Americans think of their future in-laws, they approve of nearly every type of person - except for atheists.

MORE: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/24/all-in-the-family-not-for-atheists/

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Marriage to atheists still troubling to American families

Poll finds Americans' growing tolerance stops at atheists

Nearly half of all Americans do not want their family members marrying atheists

Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property

The religious right often wages campaigns of harassment, intimidation and outright violence against First Amendment plaintiffs.

The Spirit and the Law

How the Becket Fund became the leading advocate for corporations' religious rights.

MORE: http://prospect.org/article/little-known-force-behind-hobby-lobby-contraception-case

Why Do Right-Wing Christians Think 'Religious Freedom' Means Forcing Their Faith on You?

Religious freedom has turned into conservative code for imposing Christianity.

MORE: http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-do-right-wing-christians-think-religious-freedom-means-forcing-their-faith-you

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Twisting Religious Liberty Into Religious Discrimination

Growing coalition presses Obama to end policy on religious discrimination in hiring

A widening coalition of critics is urging the Obama administration to drop the practice of permitting religious groups to hire and fire based on a person's faith when they receive federal money, saying Obama is reneging on a promise he made in 2008 to change that policy.

MORE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/growing-coalition-presses-obama-to-end-policy-on-religious-discrimination-in-hiring/2014/06/20/d7cb1a18-f8ab-11e3-af55-076a4c5f20a0_story.html

Justices rule for Hobby Lobby on contraception mandate

The 5-4 decision by the court's conservative majority, over the vehement objections of liberal justices, dealt a blow to President Obama's health care law two years after the court came within one vote of striking it down as unconstitutional.

But the ruling was not as sweeping as it could have been for several reasons. It's based on a religious freedom law passed by Congress rather than a broad constitutional right to exercise religion. It applies only to closely-held corporations such as the family-owned companies that challenged the law.

And it leaves open the possibility that women working for those companies can get the disputed contraceptives -- morning-after pills and IUDs -- from another source, such as the government or private insurers.

MORE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/06/30/supreme-court-hobby-lobby-religion-contraception-obama/11473189/

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Secular Coalition Condemns SCOTUS Decision to Strike Down Contraceptive Coverage Requirement

Nonbelievers Denounce Supreme Court Decision Allowing Special Religious Privileges for Hobby Lobby

Double-Edged Disaster


Mother Jones Probe Finds That Hobby Lobby Invests Millions in Makers of Birth-Control Pills and Abortifacients

Hobby Lobby Invested In Numerous Abortion And Contraception Products While Claiming Religious Objection

Oklahoma school district OKs 'Bible curriculum' created by Hobby Lobby president

Untruth In Advertising: Latest Hobby Lobby Scandal Reveals Pattern of Deception

High court voids abortion clinic protest-free zone

The Supreme Court unanimously struck down the 35-foot protest-free zone outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts Thursday, declaring it an unconstitutional restraint on the free-speech rights of protesters.

MORE: http://www.abc2news.com/news/political/high-court-voids-abortion-clinic-protest-free-zone

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Abortion Providers Still at Risk

Congress Passes Bill to Install God-Honoring Plaque at National World War II Memorial

Obama will undoubtedly sign the bill. That's too bad. Those soldiers didn't risk their lives so that the U.S. government could promote the Christian faith.

MORE: http://richarddawkins.net/2014/06/congress-passes-bill-to-install-god-honoring-plaque-at-national-world-war-ii-memorial/

Law takes a beating in NC voucher saga

Schools receiving tax dollars are not required under the statute to be accredited by any state or national agency, to hire teachers who are licensed or have any stated set of credentials, to meet any meaningful curriculum standards, to demonstrate any level of student achievement or to show they won’t discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, disability or religion.

Such is our fervor to turn over scarce education funds to 700 private, mostly religious, schools without a whiff of accountability. All that is demanded is they not be deemed "public." No matter what nonsense (or venom) they teach, we stand ready to subsidize it.

MORE: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/21/3952326/gene-nichol-law-takes-a-beating.html

See also...

Vouchers lottery gives NC students public money for private school

NC voucher applications show pitfalls of using public money for private schools


North Carolina Enacts Law Protecting Student Prayer in Public Schools

ACLU And Americans United Ask Colorado Supreme Court To Strike Down Voucher Program Funding Religious Schools

A Douglas County, Colo., school voucher program that allows taxpayer dollars to flow directly to religious schools is unconstitutional, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado say.

MORE: http://yubanet.com/usa/ACLU-And-Americans-United-Ask-Colorado-Supreme-Court-To-Strike-Down-Voucher-Program-Funding-Religious-Schools.php#.U7EtJ0vD-Uk

AL law using public dollars to subsidize tuition at private schools ruled unconstitutional

The law created a tax-credit program that used public dollars to reimburse the cost of tuition to those parents who pulled their children out of public schools and enrolled them in private or religious schools. Tax credits were also given to companies and individuals who gave money to certain organizations to fund scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools.

The program cost taxpayers $40 million during the 2013-14 fiscal year, yet, studies show that voucher and tuition tax-credit schemes don't result in a better education for students.

MORE: http://educationvotes.nea.org/2014/06/03/al-law-using-public-dollars-to-subsidize-tuition-at-private-schools-ruled-unconstitutional/

CFI Tells Federal Court: End Taxpayer Funding of Clergy Housing

If your employer provides you with housing at your place of work, and requires you to live in it, the value of this housing is not subject to federal income tax. "Ministers of the gospel," however, receive a significantly more generous tax benefit. Members of the clergy,  and only members of the clergy, can receive a cash allowance designated for housing free of taxes, and, if they use this cash to pay a mortgage, they can still claim a mortgage tax deduction. Moreover,  there is no requirement that ministers even reside at their place of work; they can live in a beach house if they want.

MORE: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/news/cfi_tells_federal_court_end_taxpayer_funding_of_clergy_housing/

American Atheists Denied Standing To Challenge Church Tax Breaks

It seems that the IRS is arguing that compliance with a rule that you think is unfair cancels out your ability to say you were harmed by it.

MORE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2014/05/22/american-atheists-denied-standing-to-challenge-church-tax-breaks/

Atheists lose latest legal fight over 'In God We Trust'

Atheists have seen a spate of unfavorable rulings lately. Last week a federal court in Kentucky rejected atheists' suit against the IRS, for the many breaks and privileges it offers churches and religious organizations. And in the 5-4 Greece v. Galloway ruling earlier this month, the Supreme Court affirmed that government bodies may convene meeting with highly sectarian prayers.

MORE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/atheists-lose-latest-legal-fight-over-in-god-we-trust/2014/05/28/dde6d840-e6a6-11e3-a70e-ea1863229397_story.html

Supreme Court upholds legislative prayer in Town of Greece v. Galloway

Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court, joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Alito in full and Justices Scalia and Thomas in part.  Scalia and Thomas refused to join part Part II-B of Kennedy's opinion, which concluded that a "fact-intensive" inquiry of the specific practice at issue in this case did not unconstitutionally coerce individuals to engage in religious observance. Justice Alito wrote a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Scalia. Justice Thomas wrote an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, joined by Justice Scalia in part. On the other side, Justice Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion for himself, and Justice Kagan wrote a dissent joined by Justices Breyer,
Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.

MORE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/05/05/breaking-supreme-court-upholds-legislative-prayer-in-town-of-greece-v-galloway/

See also...

After Supreme Court ruling, do religious minorities have a prayer?

Supreme Court Legislative Prayer Ruling Criticized By Religious Groups

A Big Win for the Prayer Lobby

Supreme Court Disaster: In a 5-4 Ruling, Justices Approve of Christian Prayers in Greece, New York

Humanist Group Launches Secular Invocations Program in Response to Supreme Court Ruling

Equal Rights for Atheist Students Denied by Massachusetts Court

In a disappointing ruling against religious equality and the rights of atheists and humanists, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today ruled against a humanist family in their challenge to the mandated recitation of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance used in public schools.

MORE: http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2014-05-equal-rights-for-atheist-students-denied-by-massachu

See also...

Mass. High Court Reaffirms "Under God" in Pledge of Allegiance  

Atheists still 'under God' when it comes to Pledge of Allegiance in Massachusetts 


Ten Years Later, a Reflection on Michael Newdow's Attempt to Remove "Under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance

Florida Town Must Open Meeting With Satanic Prayer or Violate Supreme Court Ruling

With the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding state-sponsored prayer, we've been wondering when someone would show "Christians" who choose to ignore Matthew 6:5, which tells believers not to make a public spectacle of prayer, exactly what a can of worms they have opened by demanding that public meetings be opened with a big, showy expression of faith.

MORE: http://aattp.org/florida-town-must-open-meeting-with-satanic-prayer-or-violate-supreme-court-ruling/

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Satanic Prayer Will Open Florida Town Council Meeting If Chaz Stevens Has His Way

Louisiana sheriff stands up for his right to pray

"The Bill of Rights is not a popularity contest. We do not trust our fundamental freedoms to majority rule, because to do so would allow the majority to take away rights that belong to everyone. 'Big government' isn't intruding in anyone's life when we uphold the constitutional protections that belong to all of us, which includes those with minority opinions," Esman said. "The point is that the Bill of Rights exists to prevent the tyranny of the majority."

MORE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/29/louisiana-sheriff-in-god-we-trust-rally/11710637/

Religious Liberty in the Air Force Under Dire Threat: An Open Letter to USAF Chief of Staff

MRFF has received almost 4,200 verified client complaints of fundamentalist Christian proselytizing from Air Force members' chains of command.

MORE: http://www.alternet.org/speakeasy/michaelweinstein/religious-liberty-air-force-under-dire-threat-open-letter-usaf-chief

Rejection doesn't stop campaign to become military's first humanist chaplain

A Navy chaplain candidate who believes people can pursue "good without a god" said the recent rejection of his application wouldn't stop his campaign to become the military's first humanist chaplain.

MORE: http://www.stripes.com/rejection-doesn-t-stop-campaign-to-become-military-s-first-humanist-chaplain-1.288769


Navy rejects request for first humanist chaplain

No 'amen,' but nonbeliever wins praise for his invocation

The founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community, an association of "nonbelievers" and a chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, delivered the ceremonial opening to Monday's meeting of the Osceola County Commission, a role almost always filled by clergy, usually Christian clergy.

MORE: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/06/19/230784/no-amen-but-nonbeliever-wins-praise.html?sp=/99/200/

High School Atheist Gives TEDxYouth Talk About the Obstacles He Faced in Forming a Secular Student Group

Jordan Balderas just graduated from high school, and he spent his senior year trying to start a group for atheists and Agnostics at his school called "Youth for Truth." (The name, he says, suggests that they're searching for truth, not that they alone possess it.)

He was successful... but, in a talk for a TEDxYouth event, Jordan spoke about all the hoops he had to jump through to make that group a reality.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/06/05/high-school-atheist-gives-tedxyouth-talk-about-the-obstacles-he-faced-in-forming-a-secular-student-group/

How One Student Uncovered Multiple Constitutional Violations at His High School

Isaiah (Issah) Smith just graduated from high school after a very eventful year in which he exposed all sorts of religious violations at his school.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/06/15/how-one-student-uncovered-multiple-constitutional-violations-at-his-high-school/

Virginia atheist couple: Court-appointed officiant told us we had no right to get married

A court-appointed official in Virginia refused to perform a wedding ceremony for a couple because they don't believe in God.

MORE: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/30/virginia-atheist-couple-court-appointed-officiant-told-us-we-had-no-right-to-get-married/

Despite Ten Commandments Monument Nearby, Atheist Group's Courthouse Bench Proposal Rejected Again

We know why the Ten Commandments monument gets to be up there. It's a Christian monument, and in Levy County, Christians get to bend the rules however they'd like.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/29/despite-ten-commandments-monument-nearby-atheist-groups-courthouse-bench-proposal-rejected-again/

Alabama Chief Justice claims First Amendment only protects Christians

In an appalling display of constitutional ignorance, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore declares that the First Amendment only applies to Christians.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2014/05/alabama-chief-justice-claims-first-amendment-only-protects-christians/

See also...

A Chief Justice in Alabama Won't Tolerate Non-Christian Lifestyles

Rights And Responsibilities: Federal Judge Rules That Religious Freedom Is Not Absolute In N.Y. Vaccination Case

U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II found that education officials can send unvaccinated children home when another student suffers from a vaccine-preventable disease.

MORE: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/rights-and-responsibilities-federal-judge-rules-that-religious-freedom-is

American Humanist Association Wins Lawsuit Against Cross Monument in Lake Elsinore, California

The City of Lake Elsinore, CA, has declined to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that a public monument depicting crosses violates the Establishment Clause of the U. S. Constitution and the Establishment Clause and No Preference Clause of the California constitution.

MORE: http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2014-04-american-humanist-association-wins-lawsuit-against-c

Mississippi religious law seen as polarizing by rights groups

Opponents of the bill say this means a business could legally discriminate against LGBTs if it claims this discrimination is motivated by their "sincerely held religious belief."

MORE: http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/mississippi-religious-law-seen-as-polarizing-by-rights-groups-24828

Archbishop Cordileone doubles down on gay marriage stance

Then there's former Family Research Council president and fringe presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who said, "The ultimate goal of homosexual rights activists is not to legalize same-sex marriage. Rather it is to silence those who disagree with them and, if necessary, throw them in jail."

MORE: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/nevius/article/Archbishop-doubles-down-on-anti-gay-stance-with-5560213.php

Good News Club Targets Children Across U.S. for Summer Salvation; Portland Fights Back

The Good News Club curriculum is filled with over 5000 references to sin and thousands more to obedience, punishment, and Hell. It stresses Old Testament narratives of a retributive God who must punish sin, warns children that they will suffer an eternity in Hell if they refuse to believe, and stresses complete obedience as the supreme value. Good News Club tells children as young as preschoolers that they have "dark" and "sinful" hearts, were born that way, and "deserve to die" and "go to Hell."

MORE: http://awaypoint.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/good-news-club-targets-children-across-u-s-for-summer-salvation-portland-fights-back/

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Right-Wing Christian Group Tried to Convert This City's Kids - But They're Fighting Back  

Appeals Court Rules NYC Can Ban Churches From Schools

The Board of Education's lawyers say allowing churches to hold worship in public schools violates the First Amendment's Establishment clause.

MORE: http://factsandtrends.net/2014/04/03/appeals-court-rules-nyc-can-ban-churches-from-schools/#.U7HYXUvD-Un

Judge rebuffs Cheektowaga teacher in suit over religious items in classroom

U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio found no basis for Silver’s claim that her right to free speech was violated when she was ordered to take down posters with religious messages and other items from her public school classroom.

MORE: http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/judge-rebuffs-cheektowaga-teacher-in-suit-over-religious-items-in-classroom-20140626

Justices reject appeal over graduations in church

The Supreme Court has left in place a court decision that said public high school graduations in a church adorned with religious symbols violated the separation of church and state.

MORE: http://news.findlaw.com/apnews/75a3f4aca04b4e12a4bbe21ced507107

Five public school districts plan graduation at churches

The district's attorney said courts have determined it's unconstitutional for a public school to hold graduation in a church.

MORE: http://www.cantonrep.com/article/20140203/NEWS/140209805/1994

ACLU questions Thomas Walker High graduation hymn, other First Amendment issues

The first point raised by the civil liberties group centered on the hymn "Till We Meet Again at Jesus' Feet" being included in Thomas Walker's graduation program.

MORE: http://www.timesnews.net/article/9077714/aclu-questions-thomas-walker-high-about-singing-of-hymn-at-graduation-other-first-amendment-concerns

Publicly-Funded Charter School Invites Clergy Member to Deliver Sermon at Graduation

Hope Academy, a charter school in California that receives public funding, did something at their recent graduation ceremony that public schools like theirs aren't allowed to do: They invited a pastor to deliver a sermon.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/06/21/publicly-funded-charter-school-invites-clergy-member-to-deliver-sermon-at-graduation/

Why is Kentucky Spending Millions of Taxpayer Dollars to Bus Children to Private Religious Schools?

Public education has taken a beating in a lot of states over the past few years, but what's happening in Kentucky makes no sense at all.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/05/05/why-is-kentucky-spending-millions-of-taxpayer-dollars-to-bus-children-to-private-religious-schools/

See also...

Kentucky spends $18 million busing kids to religious schools in spite of state constitution

Judge Rules Against Public High School Teacher Who Was Promoting Christianity in the Classroom

...it is my conclusion that you are using your publicly funded classroom to express your personal religious beliefs to your students, including but not limited to your apparent belief in the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible as the word of God, and to advance Judeo-Christian principles.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/06/27/judge-rules-against-public-high-school-teacher-who-was-promoting-christianity-in-the-classroom/

Mayor Tells Atheist He Can't Have a 'Reason Station' in City Hall, but the Christian 'Prayer Station' Can Stay

IF you were to walk into the Warren, Michigan city hall, you would see a Prayer Center, a kiosk of sorts with pamphlets about God, manned by Christians eager to proselytize.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/17/mayor-tells-atheist-he-cant-have-a-reason-station-in-city-hall-but-the-christian-prayer-station-can-stay/

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Atheist Denied Early Parole for Not Taking Part in Religious Treatment Program

Atheist Randall Jackson had been serving time in the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph, Missouri when he learned about an opportunity to get early release on parole -- all he had to do was attend the center's "Offenders Under Treatment Program."

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/02/appeals-court-rules-in-favor-of-atheist-denied-early-parole-for-not-taking-part-in-religious-treatment-program/

Hallmark Channel Mutes the Word 'God' to Avoid Taking the Lord's Name in Vain; Now Viewers Are 'Upset,' 'Ashamed'

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/16/hallmark-channel-mutes-the-word-god-to-avoid-taking-the-lords-name-in-vain-now-viewers-are-upset-ashamed/

Sex Abuse Cost The U.S. Catholic Church Nearly $3 Billion According To Report By Bishops Conference

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released their eleventh annual report on the progress of implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People as part of the effort to increase transparency with regards to sexual abuse.

MORE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/04/sex-abuse-catholic-church_n_5085414.html

While church volunteer was molesting girl, TN pastor was diverting cops, lawsuit claims

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims has asked prosecutors in Tennessee to investigate whether a Baptist minister altered his account of sex abuse by a church volunteer to protect himself from civil liability.

MORE: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/06/23/while-church-volunteer-was-molesting-girl-tn-pastor-was-diverting-cops/

For Years, Minister Raped Young Teens With Parents' Tacit Approval

You might think that Tornambe's parents had no idea what what was going on. You'd be wrong.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/19/for-years-minister-raped-young-teens-with-parents-tacit-approval-manhunt-underway/

Sex Scandal Rocks the Duggars' Christian Patriarchy Movement

The far-right Christian Patriarchy--brought to American audiences by the Duggar family--is on the verge of collapse after a series of alleged sex scandals involving the movement's leaders.

MORE: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/16/sex-scandal-rocks-the-duggars-christian-patriarchy-movement.html

Daviess Co. clerk denies licenses, citing religion

She told one disgruntled license seeker that the U.S. "was founded on the biblical principle of one man and one woman in marriage." She says that's what she'll follow until she hears otherwise.

MORE: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Daviess-Co-clerk-denies-licenses-citing-religion-5582566.php

Muslim Parents Rightfully Upset When Church's Flyers Are Distributed at Dearborn Elementary Schools

Normally, when we hear about Christian groups pushing faith in public schools, it's always atheists who push back against it. So I'm glad to finally see Muslim parents complaining about an Easter event flyer.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/04/muslim-parents-rightfully-upset-when-churchs-flyers-are-distributed-at-dearborn-elementary-schools/

Casey County children miss school as parents protest free books

"We're here to defend God and his glory," said one woman, who declined to be named. A male companion muttered to himself as he scanned the parking lot for their car.

MORE: http://m.centralkynews.com/amnews/news/casey-county-children-miss-school-as-parents-protest-free-books/article_eaba5902-b91a-11e3-a216-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=jqm

Judge strikes down Wisconsin same-sex marriage ban

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the ban, making Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.

MORE: http://www.freep.com/article/20140606/NEWS07/306060168/wisconsin-same-sex-marriage

Justices won't stop gay marriages in Oregon

In a one-line ruling without explanation, the Supreme Court refused to stay a district judge's ruling from last month that cleared the way for same-sex weddings there.

MORE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/04/supreme-court-gay-lesbian-marriage-oregon/9974419/

Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban is struck down

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III called the plaintiffs -- a widow, 11 couples and one couple's teenage daughters -- courageous for challenging the constitutionality of the ban passed by lawmakers in 1996.

MORE: http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/national/northeast/2014/05/pennsylvanias_gay_marriage_ban_is_struck_down

Federal judge declares Idaho's gay marriage ban unconstitutional

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale issued her sweeping opinion knocking down Idaho state laws and a state constitutional amendment, passed in 2006, as failing to live up to the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment guarantee no "state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

MORE: http://www.ketknbc.com/news/federal-judge-declares-idahos-gay-marriage-ban-unc

Wedding Bells in Little Rock: Arkansas Becomes First Southern State to Legalize Gay Marriage

Since Piazza did not stay his ruling, it opened the door for same-sex couples to marry in all 75 counties in the state.

MORE: http://news.yahoo.com/wedding-bells-little-rock-arkansas-becomes-first-southern-221046772.html

Todd Starnes Has Another Story of Christian Persecution; Doesn't Say That Victim's Father is Promoting His Book

Todd Starnes of Fox News Radio has this nasty habit of creating material for Snopes to debunk. He takes misunderstandings, slaps a "Christian persecution" tag on them, and fails to apologize when his story turns out to be wrong.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/02/todd-starnes-has-another-story-of-christian-persecution-doesnt-say-that-victims-father-is-promoting-his-book/

Why so many Christians still believe in demons and Satan

Harvard's black mass controversy is far from an anomaly, and reveals how unreformed the Catholic Church remains.

MORE: http://www.salon.com/2014/05/29/why_so_many_christians_still_literally_believe_in_demons_and_satan_partner/

1500 years old Bible found that says Jesus was not crucified

Religious authorities in Tehran insist that the text shows that Jesus was not crucified, was not the Son of God, but a prophet, and called Paul, the "impostor".

MORE: http://www.indocanadians.ca/indo-canadian-news/world-news/1500-years-old-bible-found-says-jesus-crucified/

In very first law passed by Congress the founding fathers took god out

God was proposed and they intentionally took it out.  This is very strange if our founding fathers intended us to be a Christian nation.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2014/06/in-very-first-law-passed-by-congress-the-founding-fathers-took-god-out/

Founding Father enthusiast Allen West's book filled with fake Founding Father quotes

A review of former congressman and Founding Father enthusiast Allen West's new book has turned up a wide assortment of fake quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other famous historical figures.

MORE: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/04/04/founding-father-enthusiast-allen-wests-book-filled-with-fake-founding-father-quotes/?onswipe_redirect=no

In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins

More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process. However, the percentage who say God was not involved is rising.

MORE: http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/believe-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx?utm_source=WWW&utm_medium=csm&utm_campaign=syndication

Ken Ham's Ignorance is Exposed (Again) in a Rant Against UK Schools Banning the Teaching of Creationism as Science

Creationist Ken Ham just found out that the UK government has told all publicly-funded schools that they cannot teach Creationism as valid science and he's furious.

MORE: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/06/20/ken-hams-ignorance-is-exposed-again-in-a-rant-against-uk-schools-banning-the-teaching-of-creationism-as-science/

Ken Ham's Ark Is Going Down, Going Down, Going Down...

The crazy story of Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis organization and their ambitious plans keeps getting stranger and stranger.

MORE: http://www.skepticblog.org/2014/06/17/ken-hams-ark-is-going-down/

See also...

Sinking Ship?: Creationist Ministry Continues To Over-Promise On Ky. 'Ark Park'

Creationists Say Smithsonian Is Pushing "Religion of Naturalism"

Young-Earth creationist Ken Ham—whose non-profit organization has benefited from millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks—says that the Smithsonian's recent acquisition of a nearly complete T-Rex fossil is an egregious use of American tax dollars to fund "the religion of naturalism."

MORE: http://io9.com/creationists-say-smithsonian-is-pushing-religion-of-na-1566137794/+Mark-Strauss

13 ways Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos" sent the religious right off the deep end

One of the most anticipated shows of 2014 was Fox's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," hosted by notable astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and produced by Seth McFarlane and Ann Druyan, the widow of Carl Sagan, the host of the original "Cosmos" series. The new "Cosmos" had the largest worldwide debut of a mini-series, capturing an audience of over 8 million viewers in the U.S. Controversy surrounded the show immediately, thrusting Tyson into the spotlight of religious fundamentalists and science deniers on the extreme right. How did each episode upset the religious fundamentalists and call out scientific denialism?

MORE: http://www.salon.com/2014/06/14/13_ways_neil_degrasse_tysons_cosmos_sent_the_religious_right_off_the_deep_end_partner/

Spark of life: Metabolism appears in lab without cells

Metabolic processes that underpin life on Earth have arisen spontaneously outside of cells. The serendipitous finding that metabolism -- the cascade of reactions in all cells that provides them with the raw materials they need to survive -- can happen in such simple conditions provides fresh insights into how the first life formed. It also suggests that the complex processes needed for life may have surprisingly humble origins.

MORE: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25471-spark-of-life-metabolism-appears-in-lab-without-cells.html#.U1_nuvldV8H