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Public Discourse: It’s not that in misery and suffering human beings grasp at foolish theories that give them some hope. Rather, amidst prosperity, human beings can blind themselves to the reality of the human condition and so never ask the questions that, once asked, cannot be plausibly answered except in theistic terms.
First Things: According to the recent study from the Pew Research Center, 22.8 percent of U.S. adults and 35 percent of millennials are religiously unaffiliated. The nones are by all indications a diverse group. Among the nones are all the familiar categories of unbelief or quasi-belief: committed atheists, agnostics, the “spiritual but not religious,” and active seekers.
First Things: In thirty years as a professor, of graduate seminars, academic conferences, committee meetings, lunches and dinners, and conversations short and long, I have heard God mentioned rarely, and when he is mentioned he is never talked of in a way that assumes his reality.
Religion Clause: Atheist activist Michael Newdow is looking for individuals who will act as plaintiffs in a new set of challenges to “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins and currency.
The Daily Beast: Yes, 1 in 5 people raised in a community of faith now identify as non-religious—the primary talking point from yesterday’s well-publicized report. But what most of this week’s flurry of media coverage missed is an even more pronounced trend in the opposite direction: nearly half of everyone raised with no religion is now part of a faith tradition.
Religion News Service (Reuters): A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday (May 12), the third killing of a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.
Religion Clause: In Arizona last week, Adam Miller, a “spiritual transformational healer,” filed a federal lawsuit against Joel Guttormson, an activist in the atheist and transgender communities, who allegedly obtained and misused Miller’s promotional video by hacking into a private YouTube account.
Religion Clause: The ACLU of Pennsylvania announced that it has filed suit on behalf of an atheist group against the County of Lacawana Transit System (COLTS) over its advertising policy.
PortalAZ (Translated via Google): Already the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization formed by a group of lawyers, claims that prohibit religious groups to distribute literature in public schools is clearly prohibited by the law of Freedom of Expression and the First Amendment of the United States. Duncan’s education department said it would review the case.
Christian News Network: Despite warnings from atheists, other legal groups have expressed support for Gideon Bible distributions in public schools. In a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom, a group of legal experts argued that, contrary to atheists’ claims, “banning only religious community groups from distributing literature at public schools is clearly forbidden by the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.”
Baptist Joint Committee: Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It is one of the few direct references to religion in our founding documents, outside the First Amendment.
The Tennessean: Sarah Green remembers feeling like she didn’t belong in her own state after discovering that Tennessee’s constitution bars people who don’t believe in God from holding public office.
The Christian Institute: Hospitals may have to provide atheist chaplains, according to new NHS guidelines published last week.
Christian News Network: A mayor in Michigan states that he will be countering an atheist booth that will be set up near a prayer station at city hall by distributing “In God We Trust” posters through his office
Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty: The Air Force has quickly reversed a ban on the words “have a blessed day” when used by military personnel to greet visitors at the security gate entrance to Robins Air Force Base.
Christian Today: A US city and its mayor have been fined $100,000 for refusing to allow an atheist “reason station” to be erected next to a Christian “prayer station” in its city hall.
First Things: Of the 7.3 billion human beings on Planet Earth today, 89 percent are religious believers, while 1.8 percent are professed atheists and another 9 percent are agnostics: which suggests that Chief Poobah of the New Atheists Richard Dawkins and his friends are not exactly winning the day, although their “market share” is up from 1900.
Detroit Free Press: If a church can have a prayer station inside city hall, then an atheist can have a reason station there, too.
USA Today: Following a week of protest and debate, the Nassau County School Board has decided that the Yulee High student who has ended his morning public announcement readings with “God Bless America” can continue giving the country his well-wishes despite atheists’ disapproval.
Christian News Network: A prominent atheist activist organization has sent letters to school districts throughout Oklahoma in an effort to stop Bible distributions in public schools.
Religion News Service: A survey of 1,500 adults released Thursday (Feb. 12) by YouGov, a British market research firm, shows that as many as a third of all Britons do not believe in God or any kind of higher power.
‘God Bless America’ morning announcement at Florida school deemed a ‘Constitutional violation’ by atheist group; student forced to drop phrase
The Christian Post: A legal law group representing atheist students in Florida has said that a daily morning announcement at Yulle High School which includes the statement “God bless America” is a constitutional violation. The school has, in turn, agreed make the student who added the phrase on his own accord to stop saying it.
The Christian Post: A school district in Florida is considering a complaint sent by a Washington, D.C.-based atheist organization regarding a high school’s morning announcement including the phrase “God Bless America.”
The Guardian: An international group of atheists and secularists including the scientists Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker has challenged the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to hold a referendum to repeal Ireland’s 21st century blasphemy law.
The Washington Post: The story of how Christianity arrived in Iceland, according to Nordic lore, reads like a scene ripped from “Game of Thrones.” A millennium ago, Christianity had just taken over Norway. So the Norwegian king dispatched a mighty warrior missionary named Thangbrand to Iceland to spread the good news. Thangbrand did, along the way spearing dead a great many heathens. Then came a test that would decide whether the icy island would accept Christianity or stay faithful to Thor and the other Norse gods.
WYFF4: A lawsuit challenging Greenville County Schools’ use of prayer could skip trial and go straight to judgement.
First Things: It seems to me very likely that opponents will use the outbreak to attack the Court’s decision last term in Hobby Lobby, the Contraception Mandate case.
Huffington Post: Karl Marx long ago disparaged religion as “the opiate of the people,” and now the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to ban all addicts. The Communist leadership of coastal Zhejiang province has declared it will double down on a long-standing but little-enforced rule that bars religious believers from joining the Party.
The Detroit News: Mitch Kahle, who moved to this lakefront community in western Michigan a year ago, has quickly made his presence felt. He convinced Ottawa County to remove a religious sign from a county park, persuaded Grand Haven to turn a 48-foot cross on city land into an anchor, and got two school districts to stop a minister from continuing to hold lunchtime programs at schools.
Survey finds major gender divide in religious beliefs in UK: Most men in 40′s are atheists, but twice more women believe in God
The Christian Post: A survey has found there is a significant gender divide when it comes to religious beliefs in Britain. While 54 percent of men in their 40s said they were either atheists or agnostics, women were twice more likely to believe in God and life after death.
Christian News Network: A number of atheist organizations are seeking to remove long-standing language from seven state Constitutions that bans secularists from holding public office.
Christian News Network: An atheist organization is seeking to dissuade new members of Congress from taking their oath on the Bible when they are sworn into office today.
Utica Fire Chief refuses to take down ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ Christmas sign despite complaints from atheists
The Christian Post: A Utica, N.Y. Fire Chief is refusing to take down a Christmas-themed sign displayed outside of a firehouse, despite growing complaints from atheists.
Atheist group erects 11 billboards across Chicago; argues that kindness ‘comes from altruism,’ not from ‘seeking divine reward’
The Christian Post: The Freedom From Religion Foundation, one of the largest secular groups in America, announced it is erecting 11 different billboards across Chicago this week with various messages. Some of the ads ask people to “think for (themselves),” while others argue that kindness “comes from altruism” and not from “seeking divine reward.”
Christian News Network: A professing Florida atheist who recently led an invocation to Mother Earth, Satan and other entities at a public meeting in Lake Worth has been denied his request to do the same at a commission meeting in Palm Beach County.
National Review: A bookkeeper named Roy Torcaso, who happened to be an atheist, refused to declare that he believed in God in order to serve as a notary public in Maryland. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1961 the court ruled unanimously for Mr. Torcaso, saying states could not have a “religious test” for public office.
American Atheists’ ‘Skip Church’ This Christmas billboards aimed at non-believers in religious households, says AA president
The Christian Post: American Atheists President David Silverman has said that his group’s holiday billboards this year, with a message to “skip church” this Christmas, are aimed at atheists who are living with theists in mixed families and are under pressure to participate in religious activities.
The Washington Post: Our readers might remember the Zombie Mohammed controversy. Atheist activist (Ernest Perce), who was marching as “Zombie Mohammed” in a Halloween parade (alongside a “Zombie Pope”), was attacked by an angry Muslim passerby, Talaag Elbayomy. When Elbayomy was prosecuted, Judge Mark Martin dismissed the charges, and berated Perce for his blasphemous behavior. Martin was eventually formally rebuked by Pennsylvania judicial authorities for this action.
Josh Brahm: The approach of the article was different than what pro-choice people would expect from a pro-life advocate, but look at the impact it had on pro-choice people and the opportunities for conversations it gave us!
Christian News Network: Two atheist activist organizations have prompted an investigation into a university history teacher in Georgia in the heart of the Bible Belt who they accuse of allegedly preaching Christianity and Creationism in his classroom.
Atheist-Turned-Orthodox Christian parent removes child from school after teacher wears Star of David necklace
The Christian Post: A Pennsylvania parent upset that his child was being exposed to religion through the Star of David necklace being worn by a teacher filed a complaint but learned that the school board supported the teacher’s freedom.
Atheists and Secular Humanists are protected by the First Amendment regardless of whether their belief systems are “religions” or not
The Washington Post: A recent federal district court decision holding that Secular Humanist prisoners are entitled to organize a discussion groups focused on their beliefs on the same terms as theistic prisoners is easily misunderstood as relying on the conclusion that Secular Humanism is a religion.
Huffington Post (AP): Attorneys offered contrasting interpretations of the Pledge of Allegiance during oral arguments Wednesday in a New Jersey family’s lawsuit claiming a school district is discriminating against their child’s atheist beliefs.
Christian News Network: A Florida school board has moved to change its policies to ban the distribution of Bibles and all other religious materials after a New York-based Satanic organization sought to distribute coloring books to students.
The Christian Post: A school board in Florida is moving to ban the distribution of Bibles and other Christian materials after a satanist group requested to distribute its literature.
The Christian Institute: Anyone who criticises same-sex marriage or Sharia law could be branded an “extremist” under proposed new powers, Christians and atheists have jointly warned.
Christian News Network: In a landmark decision last week, a federal judge in Oregon declared ‘secular humanism’ to be a religion, opining that those who profess to be atheists and secular humanists should be afforded equal protection rights under the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and be allowed to enjoy the same liberties to practice religion that religious groups are able to enjoy.
The Daily Beast: “When people claim that religion has been responsible for more war, more oppression and suffering than any other human institution, one has to ask, ‘more than what?’” More than kingship? More than merchant greed?
The Christian Institute: Pro-marriage and pro-life Christians have been likened to violent terrorists by a group of secularists and atheists.
The New York Times: “The thing that really sticks out with me,” Dr. Arsenault said, “is that in the culture wars, the rhetoric is acerbic on both sides. On the humanist side, there’s this tendency to view people of faith as not rational. And David is clearly rational. He’s just looked at the same evidence as me and come to a different conclusion.”
The Gospel Coalition: The number of people who identify themselves as atheists in the United States has been steadily rising in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, when asked about their religious identity, 2.4 percent of Americans say they are atheists, up from 1.6 percent in 2007.
The Christian Post: Nearly three dozen towns around the world, including in the U.S. and France, launched their first “Sunday Assembly,” also known as the atheist church, on Sunday.
First Things: “Atheism may have turned a corner,” writes Tom Roston at Quartz. He’s referring to Sam Harris’s latest, Waking Up, subtitled “A Guide to Spirituality without Religion.”
Atheist airman who refuses to swear ‘So Help Me God’ in reenlistment oath has until November to comply or leave
The Christian Post: An atheist airman who is refusing to say “so help me God” in the Oath of Enlistment statutorily required to reenlist in the Air Force, has threatened to file a lawsuit against the Department of Defense. He now has until November to comply with the requirement or leave when his contract expires, according to an Air Force official.
National Right to Life: Suffering is not pleasant—most of us can agree on that. Suffering though, no matter how unpleasant, is something we all share. We all have moments of pain and sorrow to different degrees. One might say it’s a part of what makes us human and able to identify and sympathize with each other.
Religion News Service: A group of county commissioners in Florida is testing a recent Supreme Court decision by banning atheists from delivering an invocation before local public meetings.
The Christian Post: Giving further ammunition to those who say that atheists cannot fully value all human life, Richard Dawkins has now stated that it would be “immoral” not to abort a baby with Down syndrome. Are you surprised?
The Guardian: The scientist Richard Dawkins has become embroiled in another Twitter row, claiming it would be “immoral” to carry on with a pregnancy if the mother knew the foetus had Down’s syndrome.
The Federalist: Once we have widespread eugenics, where will towering minds like Dawkins place limits? On the arrival of “human feelings”?
First Things: Plato’s first form of atheism is the denial of divinity itself—what we today usually mean by the term “atheism.” This is the idea that there is no God or are no gods.
The Christian Post: Long the domain of church and state officials, in Indiana the solemnization of marriages now can be overseen by people who profess to have no religion at all.
Politico: You might think that America would be fertile ground for the rise of atheism. After all, the United States is the most scientifically advanced society in human existence, and as far as atheism has a history—and it is an oddly uncharted one—it is popularly believed to be of slow, steady scientific advance.
The Christian Post: It’s something most Christian parents worry about: You send your kids off to college and when they come back, you find they’ve lost their faith. The prospect of this happening is why many parents nudge their kids towards Christian colleges, or at least schools with a strong Christian presence on campus.
The Christian Post: A bill introduced in the Ohio Legislature would allow for individuals of any religion, or none at all, to solemnize marriages in the state.
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is commending the decision by the Navy Chief of Chaplains to deny the application of Jason Heap, a candidate who wanted to be the military’s first “atheist chaplain.”
Christian News Network: A federal court has dismissed three atheist groups’ suit against the IRS, in which they accused the tax agency of discriminating against nonreligious nonprofits.
National Review: Jordan Lorence, senior counsel with ADF, discusses the implications of Town of Greece v. Galloway.
ADF Media: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Friday that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools does not violate the commonwealth’s constitution or laws.
One News Now: A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has sent New York churches back to court over use of public school property.
Nathan Cherry: Did you know that churches and schools used to meet in the same buildings?
Christian Post: FFAF’s official website includes a list of prominent organizations that provide free legal support for members of all faiths who have experienced harassment by militant atheists. Some of these organizations include The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, European Centre for Law and Justice, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Mike Scinto, filling in for Mike Gallagher on The Mike Gallagher Show, interviews Doug Napier about the film God’s Not Dead.