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‘Christian’ Pastor Says He’s Willing to Be Decapitated for Opposing Gay Rights

Game-of-Thrones-Ned-Stark-head-getting-chopped-off[1]A wise man once said that to die for an idea is to place a rather high price upon conjecture. But that hasn’t stopped martyrs over the ages. And, while you may think that martyrdom has been relegated to the dustbin of history, one man is ready to bring it back. Franklin Graham is ready to die for his beliefs. Or so he says. Speaking at a Family Research Council conference on May 22, Graham put forward his fear (hope?) that they may all need to die for their anti-gay cause.

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Bishop E.W. Jackson: ‘Demonic Power’ Driving the Agenda of the ACLU

jackson[1]Bishop E.W. Jackson, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council (FRC) and former Republican nominee for Virginia’s lieutenant governor, said at the FRC’s “Watchmen on the Wall” conference last week that groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation are representatives of a “demonic power” that is “threatening [America] from within. “Prayer is power,” he began, “and that’s why this is not politics. Because when the Foundation For the Freedom From Religion and the ACLU goes around the country trying to stop prayer in city councils and school board meetings, trying to stop prayer at every public events — they are not simply human beings who disagree with us, it is demonic power moving to shut down the power of God that comes through prayer.”

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Destroys Climate Deniers

Tyson%20with%20Permafrost[1]For 11 episodes now, the groundbreaking Fox and National Geographic Channel series Cosmos has been exploring the universe, outraging creationists, and giving science teachers across the nation something to show in class every Monday. In the process, the show has been drawing more than 3 million viewers every Sunday night, a respectable number for a science-focused show that is, after all, a major departure from what prime-time audiences are used to. Cosmos certainly hasn’t shied from controversy; it has taken on evolution and industry-funded science denial, and it has been devoting an increasing amount of attention to the subject of climate change. And apparently that was just the beginning.

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Conservatives Rally Behind GOP Leader Who Said the Common Core Turns Kids Gay

shutterstock_159921494[1]Right-wing activists are rallying behind Florida state Rep. Charles Van Zant, the GOP politician who warned that Common Core will  turn children gay. Van Zant pointed to Florida’s education contract with American Institutes for Research (AIR), a group that produces material focusing on LGBT youth. Those materials, however,  are not part of the contract with Florida, and in any case  it would be absurd to claim that LGBT-inclusive resources would “ attract every one of your children to become as homosexual,” as Van Zant did. [Read more]

An Atheist’s Defense of Rituals: Ceremonies as Traffic Lights

barmitzvah[1]The idea of a coming-of-age ceremony has always been a bit strange to me as an atheist. Sure, I attended more than my fair share of Bat and Bar Mitzvahs in middle school. But it always struck me as odd for us to pretend that someone “became an adult” on a particular day, rather than acknowledging it was a gradual process of maturation over time. Why can’t we just all treat people as their maturity level deserves? The same goes with weddings – does a couple’s relationship really change in a significant way marked by a ceremony? [Read more]

Pope Considers Allowing Priests Conjugal Visits

Pope_Francis-645x325[1]Pope Francis said this week that while he personally believed Roman Catholic priests should remain celibate, he could see a future in which they are allowed to marry, as they can in some other Christian faiths. When his idle comment received push-back from some of the more conservative corners of the Church, he suggested a compromise, by which priests were allowed conjugal visits instead. [Read more]

Highland Graduate Wants Nonbelievers to Come ‘Out of the Closet’

WEBatheist[1]A Highland High School graduate attending the University of Akron wants Medina County residents to know people who question the existence of God are all around them. “We’re your neighbors, your co-workers, your boss,” Craig Bauman, 24, said. “We’re everywhere and we blend in and no one will know unless they ask or we have a conversation about it.” Bauman, an atheist and president of the University of Akron’s Secular Student Alliance, said it’s important for people to know how prominent secularism is because that helps rid the stigma associated with being nonreligious. [Read more]

MAP: Where Offending a Religion Could Get You Executed

PF_14.05.28_blasphemy-apostasy_apostasy640px[1]shocking case in Sudan has returned the anachronistic charge of “apostasy” to the front pages. A Sudanese woman gave birth to her child this week in prison. She has been sentenced to death by hanging under sharia law for having married a Christian man and converted to his religion. The sharia court refused to recognize her marriage so it also convicted her of adultery, with an additional sentence of 100 lashes before her execution. [Read more]

South Africa’s Top Judge Stirs Debate Urging Infusion of Law, Religion to Fight Crime

south-african-president-jacob-zuma-chief-justice-mogoeng-mogoeng[1]South Africa’s top judge has said corruption and many other social ills are largely due to a failure to infuse law with a measure of religion and morality. Chief Justice Mogoeng Thomas Reetsang Mogoeng said infusing law with religion could help turn around crime, corruption, maladministration, lackadaisical effort by government functionaries, dishonesty and injustice. “People steal and boast about what they have been able to buy through the process of theft and corruption,” lamented the highest ranking judge in the country at the May 26 to 28 conference. [Read more]

John Boehner Has Moral, Biblical Choice to Make on Immigration Reform Vote, Says Jim Wallis

john-boehner[1]Sojourners President Jim Wallis said that House Speaker John Boehner faces both a moral and a biblical choice regarding putting immigration reform up for a vote in Congress before the August deadline, or it will likely be delayed for another year. “Fixing this broken system right now is the moral test for the common good of this Congress. One man stands in the way of that. One man can fix this system, by just allowing a vote. That’s Speaker John Boehner,” Wallis told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Wednesday. [Read more]

As Scathing on Gay Marriage as on Intelligent Design

On Tuesday, news broke that a federal judge in Pennsylvania had declared the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Most news outlets treated the story as significant but unexceptional, another mile marker passed in the nation’s race toward equality. [Read more]

Ex-Megachurch Pentecostal Minister Who Says There’s No Hell to Reportedly Be Played by Robert Redford in Biopic

Carlton Pearson, a former Pentecostal minister turned all-inclusive gospel preacher, is having a movie made based on his life that will showcase how he shifted his perspective from teaching the scripture’s truth to preaching that hell does not exist. The film “Come Sunday” is currently in its early stages of development. [Read more]

The Scary State of Religious Freedom in America

The Rev. Welton Gaddy recently announced his retirement after 16 years at the helm of The Interfaith Alliance, a progressive group that advocates for religious liberty and church-state separation. On my bloggingheads show, I talked to Gaddy about his tenure there, and the future of religious freedom in the United States. [Read more]