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Religious Curriculum Should Not Be Taught in Public School

53603e065db29.preview-300[1]An Oklahoma public school district adopted new curriculum this month that comically violates the principle of separation of church and state. Mustang School District approved of curriculum supporters say will teach high school students archaeology, history and the arts through biblical stories. As if it wasn’t bizarre enough that public high schools in Mustang will soon incorporate biblical stories into lesson plans, students will also be taught that all sinners must “suffer the consequences” of disobeying God. [Read more]

Universal Circumcision Is The Dumbest Proposal Ever

JesusForeskin[1]Circumcision enthusiast Brian J. Morris seems to be very fond of analogies. In his latest publication in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, he compares male circumcision—the only surgical procedure routinely performed on healthy, non-consenting newborns without any medical indication—to vaccination. The argument Morris (who is not a pediatrician and does not hold a medical degree) makes is this: The benefits of circumcision are so great that they outnumber the risks by 100 to 1. Therefore, routine circumcision should be made compulsory for all. [Read more]

Hobby Lobby’s Public School Bible Class Treats ‘Moses’ Magic Wand’ as Historical Fact

confused-student-with-glasses-and-blue-t-shirt-surrounded-by-books-Shutterstock[1]A pair of religious liberty watchdogs urged an Oklahoma school district to drop its plans to implement a Bible-based curriculum designed by a conservative Christian business owner. Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent letters last week to the Mustang Public School District board expressing concerns about the implementation of the “Museum of the Bible” curriculum. The groups, which are based in Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisc., said the course work designed by Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green was taught from a sectarian perspective and would expose the district to costly, time-consuming lawsuits. [Read more]

One More Time, Evangelicals Head to Hill on Immigration Reform

RNS-PASTOR-REFORMTrying yet again with new voices, more than 250 evangelical pastors came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday (April 29) to push for immigration reform. “I didn’t want people to think this was only a Hispanic issue,” said Eugene Cho, pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, at a news conference before meeting with dozens of mostly Republican members of Congress. “This is impacting a lot of people, including Asian-Americans.” Cho, who is of Korean descent, was among the new faces demonstrating support for immigration reform across racial and ethnic groups and denominations. [Read more]

Acclaimed Baseball Coach Under Fire from Atheists for Pre-Game Prayers

baseball-pd-300x224[1]An acclaimed high school baseball coach is under fire from a prominent atheist activist organization for allegedly leading his team in prayers before games. Larry Turner, 56, was named the best high school baseball coach in the United States last year as he was dubbed the 2013 National Baseball Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations. He has won ten state championships over his 32-year tenure and averages 31 wins per season. In addition to coaching youth at Owasso High School, Turner also focuses on teaching youth to be a blessing to society. [Read more]

Church-State Groups Skeptical About Hobby Lobby Bible Curriculum

steve-green[1]A group that advocates for separation of church and state says Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green’s new high school Bible curriculum is likely unconstitutional and warns that school districts that use it risk getting sued for violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Attorneys representing Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote the superintendent and school board members in Mustang, Okla., April 23 warning that their April 14 vote to create an elective Bible curriculum in high schools “presents significant risks of unconstitutional religious instruction and could expose the school district to costly, time-consuming lawsuits.” [Read more]

Anti-Poverty Efforts Need a Biblical Answer, But It’s Not Socialism, Says AEI Panel

aei-poverty[1]A panel of experts on economics and theology who have recently come together to author a book on poverty believe that anti-poverty efforts need a biblical answer, but the Bible does not teach socialism. Various experts brought together by the American Enterprise Institute presented their views on combating poverty Tuesday afternoon at an event titled “For the least of these: A biblical answer to poverty.” The panel, which was cosponsored by the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, was comprised of some of the authors involved in a book of the same name released by WestBow Press last February. [Read more]

Giant John Paul II Crucifix Falls and Instantly Crushes Young Man to Death in Italy

pope-john-paul-iis-trusted-aide-stanislaw-dziwisz-holds-his-hand-during-a-ceremony-at-the-vatican-afp[1]An Italian man was crushed to death on Wednesday by a giant crucifix honouring John Paul II that collapsed during a ceremony ahead of the late pope’s canonisation. A piece of the 30-metre (98-foot) high wooden cross fell during the event near an Alpine village, killing the young man on the spot, Italian media reported. The Jesus Christ statue on the cross is six metres high and weighs 600 kilogrammes and the crucifix was curved and fixed to the ground with cables, the reports said. [Read more]

Christians Object to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

the-absolute-true-diary-part-time-indian-397x600[1]If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs.”  This one paragraph in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, has caused quite an uproar in Meridian, Idaho. As yes, anti-Christian content, because everyone knows that Christians never, ever, I mean NEVER masturbate. I am sure local Christians also objected to this passage in the book. Can’t have teenagers running around with metaphorical boners or real boners for that matter. Fortunately, several people in Meridian made sure that the book would be available to those who wanted to read it. They bought 350 copies of the book and went to the local park to distribute it. What did one local offended Christian do? They called the cops. [Read more]

Pastors Left Asking ‘Why’ After Tornado Ravages Small Ark. Town

vilonia-arkansas-after-the-tornado[1]Two pastors from the same town in Arkansas are left grasping for answers after a deadly tornado swept through their town on Sunday evening, damaging one pastor’s home and church and completely demolishing another pastor’s house. This is the second tornado to damage the small Southern town in three years. Wade Lentz, pastor of Beryl Baptist Church in Vilonia, Ark., says he is still trying to “understand why” God has allowed his family to go through the suffering of enduring another tornado’s destruction, but adds that he knows “God does not make any mistakes.” [Read more]

Sarah Palin: “Waterboarding Is How We Baptize Terrorists” 

Screen-Shot-2014-04-28-at-9.52.59-AM[1]At Christmas last year I had the great privilege of baptizing my daughter. It was a deeply meaningful and powerful moment for me and my family. As it is for countless other disciples of Jesus. Except Sarah Palin, apparently. After nearly 7 minutes of regurgitating a barely coherent string of cliche one liners lifted directly from Facebook memes, she tossed out this utterly offensive metaphor to a recent meeting of the NRA in Indianapolis: [Read more]

Casey Reacts to “Cosmos” Episode 8

You’re in for a treat, dear reader. We have the reaction of Casey Luskin — our favorite creationist — to the latest episode of Cosmos: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY which aired last weekend, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was titled “Sisters of the Sun,” in which Tyson explored the composition and life-cycle of the stars, and the essential work of two female astronomers — Annie Jump Cannon and Cecilia Payne. We were wondering how they’d respond to that one — it wasn’t specifically about evolution — but the Discoveroids, with their deep hatred of science because it ignores their supernatural fantasies, rarely disappoint us. Casey’s essay is Cosmos Says We’re Made of “Stardust”; But Is That All? You know from his title where he’s going — Tyson ignored the Oogity Boogity factor, which is an outrage! [Read more]

Hypocrisy and the Intolerance of Religion

Dear Saudi Arabia, I understand we don’t see eye to eye. I know you have a rich history and a rich culture, I also know that you are setting fire to it. It is not the decadent west destroying Arab culture. It is Islam. [Read more]

Israeli Forces Demolish West Bank Mosque As Peace Talks Deadline Passes

Israeli forces demolished several structures, including a mosque, in a Palestinian village on Tuesday, the day a deadline for a deal in now-frozen peace talks expired. A Reuters correspondent saw several hundred soldiers deployed in Khirbet al-Taweel, in the occupied West Bank, around daybreak. [Read more]

Oklahoma District Bible Class: Sinners Will Suffer

A high school curriculum supported by Hobby Lobby chain president Steve Green, billed as a way to teach archaeology, history and the arts through Bible stories, also tells students God is always there in times of trouble and that sinners must “suffer the consequences” of disobeying. [Read more]

Why Palin’s “Baptism by Waterboarding” is Sacrilegious

Sarah Palin has made headlines once again, this time over remarks made this past weekend in a speech delivered at National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Indianapolis. Throughout the speech, Palin mockingly criticized “intolerant, anti-freedom leftist liberals” for seeking to “strip away our Second Amendment rights.” [Read more]

. . . AND NOW FOR SOME SCIENCE . . .

Evolution of Animal Intelligence

Animals-2[1]Animal intelligence is a fascinating topic and there have been many attempts at studying it. Many of the individual studies look at one or other specific trait that we associate with intelligence in one species and the traits studied can differ from species to species, making general conclusions hard to arrive at. Ed Yong reports on a massive multinational study that looked across many species at one aspect of intelligence (self control) as demonstrated by two specific tasks. (You can read the paper on which his article is based here.) [Read more]

Search for Life on Exoplanets More Difficult Than Thought

2014-04-29-exoplanets[1]A new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough suggests the search for life on planets outside our solar system may be more difficult than previously thought. The study, authored by a team of international researchers led by UTSC Assistant Professor Hanno Rein from the Department of Physical and Environmental Science, finds the method used to detect biosignatures on such planets, known as exoplanets, can produce a false positive result. [Read more]

Stem Cells Made from Cloned Human Embryos

BA92DBC4-363D-4165-B3BED830B94E3FF7_article[1]Two research groups have independently produced human embryonic stem-cell lines from embryos cloned from adult cells. Their success could reinvigorate efforts to use such cells to make patient-specific replacement tissues for degenerative diseases, for example to replace pancreatic cells in patients with type 1 diabetes. But further studies will be needed before such cells can be tested as therapies. The first stem-cell lines from cloned human embryos were reported in May last year by a team led by reproductive biology specialist Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton (see ‘Human stem cells created by cloning’). [Read more]