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When Easter and Christmas Near, More Americans Search Online for “Church”

Priests and ministers have long noted a sharp increase in church attendance around the two most significant Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter. Some have given those who attend services only at those times of year a name — “Chreasters” — and churches have launched campaigns to get them to attend more regularly.
FT_Church_Spike[1]More Americans search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. [Read more]

Army Approves ‘Humanist’ As Religious Preference

???????????????????????????????More than two years after first making his request, Army Maj. Ray Bradley can now be known as exactly what he is: a humanist in the U.S. military. “I’m able to self-identity the belief system that governs my life, and I’ve never been able to do that before,” said Bradley, who is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and works on supporting readiness of the Army Reserve’s medical staff. Lt. Col. Sunset R. Belinsky, an Army spokeswoman, said Tuesday (April 22) that the “preference code for humanist” became effective April 12 for all members of the Army. [Read more]

Mikey Weinstein Pushes for Military to Withdraw From National Day of Prayer; a ‘Fundamentalist Christian Event’

national-day-of-prayer[1]A military religious freedom activist has called on the United States military to distance itself from the National Day of Prayer Task Force. Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, sent a letter last Thursday to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel outlining his request. “The planned participation by uniformed U.S. military personnel in this private fundamentalist Christian religious event, run by a non-federal entity, is an unequivocally clear violation of the plethora of DoD regulations and instructions,” wrote Weinstein. [Read more]

Does Religion Belong in MA Public Schools?

images-golocalworcester-com--lifestyle_Bible-240x328[1]Separation of church and state, people’s First Amendment rights, and religious tolerance have always been a source of debate, but what role should religion have in Massachusetts public schools? A recent report published by Gateway to a Better Education entitled “The Bible in State Academic Standards” analyzed the various laws, regulations, and academic standards of each state, calling for more opportunities for Christianity to be taught in public schools. “We have found over the years that a lot of people are unaware of their states’ academic standards regarding the teachings of Christianity,” said Eric Buehrer, Founder and President of Gateways to a Better Education. “When it comes to Christianity, there is an assumption that you can’t teach about those subjects. [Read more]

Dr Rudolph Tanzi’s Rainbow Bridge to Quackery

brain[1]As mentioned in an earlier post, Deepak Chopra and neuroscientist Rudolph Tanzi have written a book claiming that you can “use your thoughts to alter your biology” including your DNA. [Read more]

The Agenda in Making John Paul an Insta-Saint

Is it my imagination, or has the process of canonizing saints in the Catholic Church largely become a circular process by which popes justify the political agendas of their predecessors? [Read more]

Lifetime Greenlights Catholic Convent Reality Series

eli_lehrer_a_p[1]Lifetime is going inside a Catholic convent for its newest docuseries. The female-skewing cable network has ordered The Sisterhood, a groundbreaking new unscripted series that will follow the journey of five young women as they decide whether or not to become nuns, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. For the first time ever, cameras will be granted access inside a Catholic convent where the five women live and work together before making the life-changing decision to take their vows and become religious sisters. [Read more]

Meet The Virgin Mary’s Cousin

Screen-Shot-2014-04-24-at-9.55.56-AM[1]She lives outside Pittsburgh, PA and just so happens to be the cousin of the Virgin Mary. Well, 65th cousin to be exact. How does she know? Ancestory.com obviously. She spent a lot of time on the site, a whole lot of time apparently, and discover that she “is the 64th great-granddaughter of Saint Joseph Ben Matthat Arimathaea, who was the paternal uncle to the Virgin Mary.” While I’ve never heard it claimed that Joseph of Arimathaea was related to the Virgin Mary, I also didn’t know she had living descendants, so you learn something new every day? [Read more]

Cameron’s ‘Christian Country’:
What the Numbers Say About Religion in the United Kingdom

FT_14.04.23_UKreligion[1]The United Kingdom “should be more confident about [its] status as a Christian country,” Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in a recent opinion piece published before Easter. His statement has since drawn strong opposition, including a letter to a British newspaper from a group of more than 50 scientists, writers and others. Cameron’s comments “foster alienation and division,” the letter says, asserting that they are also not true. “Surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.” [Read more]

Jan Brewer Vetoes Property Tax Cuts for Churches Leasing Space

page05brewerjan_304xx280-420-10-0[1]Property tax breaks are kosher for developers, charter schools, Apple Inc.,Tesla Motors and some other big companies in Arizona. But proposed state property tax cuts for churches that lease commercial space couldn’t avoid Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto pen. [Read more]

Top Figures in Conservative Movement Spreading Crazy Lie That Faith in God Ended Slavery

The fanatical right in the US has a problem on its hands and that problem is American history. History tells a tale that does not fit the narrative of the Tea Party and libertarian version of American’s founding and history. [Read more]

Pat Robertson Recalls Doctor Raising Patient From The Dead With Prayer

After the 700 Club ran a story on the importance of prayer for doctors and patients, host Pat Robertson told a story about how a board member of Regent University, the school Robertson founded, used prayer to bring a dead man back to life.

[Read more]

School Can’t Substantiate Claims That Texas Girl’s Bible Taken Away During In-Class Reading Period

Young-girl-hugs-Bible-to-chest-via-Shutterstock-615x345[1]A Texas school district said it could not substantiate claims by a conservative activist group that a second-grader had her Bible taken away during a classroom reading exercise. The girl’s family said a teacher took away her Bible two weeks ago during a “read to myself” period at Hamilton Elementary School. The family – who asked to remain anonymous, fearing possible retaliation — contacted the Liberty Institute rather than bring their concerns to the principal. [Read more]

Does Bible have less influence on Millennials?

1398124346000-AFP-512492552[1]A new survey revealed that 30% of Millennials say the Bible has too little influence on society, compared with 50% of all adults. Comments from Facebook and Twitter are edited for clarity and grammar:
The most read and purchased book in world history can’t and won’t be ignored.
Twitter: #tellusatoday

Is a Secular System Right for Egypt?

This month, as reported by Reuters, the Egyptian government announced new measures to increase “supervision over all Egypt’s mosques so that they do not fall into the hands of extremists and the unqualified.” The removal of thousands of clerics—numbering 12,000, according to the government’s statement—comes in the context of the ongoing struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military-backed regime. [Read more]

Pope: There Are “Bat-Like Christians” Who “Prefer the Shadows to the Light of the Lord’s Presence”

F_-_S_Marta_3[1]There are Christians who are afraid of the joy of the Resurrection , “we could say in good humour that they are bat-like Christians who prefer the shadows to the light of the Lord’s presence”. This was Pope Francis message during Mass c this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on today’s Gospel passage that recounts the appearance of the risen Jesus to the apostles. But the disciples instead of rejoicing are “shocked and frightened” thinking “that they have seen a ghost”. [Read more]

Despite What This Group Says, “Homosexual Aggression” Isn’t Limiting the Career Options for Christians

h3aUWQr[1]Who knew that devout Christians were being kicked out of entire professions? According to the American Family Association, LGBT individuals are destroying the job prospects of Christians in the following fields for the following reasons. [See List] Man, those bigoted Christians sure are polite, aren’t they? In each of those cases, the issue wasn’t that Christians were being too devout. It’s that they were either unable to follow the law or unable to fulfill the obligations of the profession.

Answers to Michael Brown’s “Honest” Questions for Gay Christians

Conservative author and radio show host, Michael Brown, is posing what he calls “honest questions for professing ‘gay Christians.’” [Read more]

Atheist Highway Cleanups, and Some Further Thoughts On “Mission Drift”

atheists-united-highway-cleanup[1]So I’ve been thinking lately about this question of organized atheism getting involved in other social justice and social change issues. I’ve been thinking about the concern that often gets voiced when this question comes up — namely, that this would result in “mission drift,” and that organized atheism will get so involved in these non-atheist-specific issues, we won’t have the resources to work on, you know, atheism. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And something recently occurred to me. Local atheist groups often do volunteer work and service projects. Highway cleanups. Blood drives. Helping in community gardens. Rebuilding houses in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. That sort of thing. [Read more]

LDS Church Sues Dating Site for Using “Mormon”

Question: has the word “Mormon” been copyrighted or trademarked in this country? If so, when? And who therefore holds the rights? I’ll be surprised if it’s the LDS church, since Mormon is not and never has been its official name. For a long time, in fact, the church tried to disavow it. [Read more]

Poll: Britain is a Christian Country – Just Not a Very Religious One

Salisbury-Cathedral-Nave[1]Although the majority of the British public would not describe themselves as religious, they still see Britain as a Christian country and are happy with it being so, according to new poll. Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in the Church Times that Britain is a Christian country and that Christians should be proud of their faith and be more open in celebrating it.  His comments led to a group of prominent secularists writing an open letter to the Daily Telegraph, saying that Britain is a secular country and Cameron’s comments could “alienate” non-Christians. [Read more]

Most Americans Want ‘Under God’ in Pledge of Allegiance

American OfficeThe U.S. Congress added the words “under God” to the country’s Pledge of Allegiance 60 years ago, and most Americans want to keep it that way, despite ongoing legal challenges. A lawsuit filed March 28 against a New Jersey school district contends reciting the phrase “under God” in the pledge sends a message nonbelievers are bad citizens and creates a hostile environment for atheist students. [Read more]

Poor, Persecuted Dinesh D’Souza

Conservative pundit, lecturer, and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza is facing prosecution in New York federal court for allegedly using straw donors to contribute in excess of federal limits to the campaign of Republican Wendy Long, who unsuccessfully challenged Senator Kristen Gillibrand for her seat in 2012. [Read more]

A Long Lost Letter Back to Paul from the Jewish Christians at Rome That I Totally Made Up

romans-fragment[1]If I could go back in time, I’d love to be a fly on the wall to hear how the Jewish believers in the church at Rome heard Paul’s words in his letter to them. (Actually, if I really could go back in time I’d first make a pit stop along the way so I could win the Power Ball Jackpot, but I digress.) Here we have Paul writing a letter to a church he had neither founded nor even visited and that had a significant Jewish population. [Read more]

Is the IFB Church Movement Christian?

gods-word[1]Many people who leave the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement come to the conclusion that the IFB church is not Christian at all. If it is a cult, it can’t be Christian, right?  I find this especially true for former IFB church members/pastors who are now Calvinists. They often consider the IFB church a false religion preaching a false gospel. Of course, their new church is the true Christian religion, preaching the true gospel. IFB churches believe what they do because of their commitment to a literal interpretation of an ancient text they consider given to them by God. [Read more]

10 Problems With How We Think

shutterstock_152290286[1]By nature, human beings are illogical and irrational. For most of our existence, survival meant thinking quickly, not methodically. Making a life-saving decision was more important than making a 100% accurate one, so the human brain developed an array of mental shortcuts. Though not as necessary as they once were, these shortcuts — called cognitive biases or heuristics — are numerous and innate. [Read more]

…And from the archives:

Atheists Have Best Sex Lives, Claims Psychologist

Darrel Ray, raised a fundamentalist Christian in Topeka, Kan., shed a heavy cloak of guilt surrounding sex after he left the church in the late 1970s, and wondered if his experience reflected that of others. [Read more]