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In the Spirit: Ron Reagan films TV ad for Freedom From Religion Foundation

Ron Reagan, 56, a son of the late Republican President Ronald Reagan, continues to starkly differentiate his views from those of his famous father. The younger Reagan, an outspoken political liberal, has taped a television commercial for the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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Church Apologizes After Youth Ministries Billboard Uses a Hitler Quote

article-2647721-1E71A6AD00000578-905_634x470[1]A children’s ministry in Alabama is under fire after it bizarrely chose to feature a quote from Adolf Hitler on a billboard. The giant billboard at the Village Mall in Auburn features five smiling children beneath a quote from Hitler that reads: ‘He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.’ The quote is even attributed to Hitler on the sign. Lamar Advertising officials said the billboard was rented by Opelika, Alabama-based Life Savers Ministries. [Read more]

PCUSA Decline in Churches, Members Continued in 2013

pcusa[1]The Presbyterian Church (USA) continued its years-long trend of losing congregations and members in 2013, according to statistics released by the mainline Protestant denomination last week. According to the data compiled by the PCUSA’s Office of the General Assembly, by the end of 2013 membership was approximately 1.76 million, compared to approximately 1.84 million by the end of 2012. Additionally, the number of PCUSA congregations decreased during 2013. [Read more]

Judging by the GOP, God Can’t Pick a Campaign Winner

1401788739360.cached[1]Herman Cain is just the latest in a long line of GOP candidates who say God told them to run for president—but apparently God never mentioned anything about winning. Are you there, God? It’s Herman Cain—and the rest of The GOP is likely coming, too. The Tea Party’s favorite pizza-preneur hit the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on Saturday with a message for conservatives, but more importantly, for Jesus Christ: If called, he’s ready for another run at the presidency in 2016. [Read more]

Israeli Public Schools to Teach the Theory of Evolution R”L

classr[1]If anyone was looking for reasons not to support Israel’s public school system, including the dati leumi schools, here is another. Davka at a time when the Ministry of Education is run by a man who wears a yarmulke and sports the title “rabbi” the ministry has decided to introduce Darwin’s Theory of Evolution into the state curriculum. According to the YNET report, the theory of evolution will be a part of the 5775 school year curriculum in religious and secular public schools alike. [Read more]

Elmira, NY, Student Forced to Stand For Pledge of Allegiance

pledge-300x213[1]Last Tuesday the American Humanist Association submitted a letter to the Elmira City School District in New York, on behalf of an atheist student who objects to the Phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The anonymous student stated that, when she attempted to simply sit during the Pledge, her high school teacher instructed her to stand. She was also told by the teacher in front of her classmates that not standing for the Pledge “is disrespectful to America and to military personnel.” [Read more]

Catholic Bishops Push (Again) on Immigration Reform

RNS-BISHOPS-MIGRANT aCatholic bishops returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday (May 29) with a renewed push for immigration reform, as Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski called the failure to address immigration reform “a stain on the soul of our nation.” Before fanning out to meet with lawmakers, members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration held a Mass at a Capitol Hill church that recalled a dramatic Mass they held April 1 along the U.S.-Mexican border. [Read more]

Church-State Clash in China Coalesces Around a Toppled Spire

CHINACHRISTIANS-articleLarge[1]For nearly a year, the Sanjiang Church was the pride of this city’s growing Christian population. A landmark in the fast-developing northern suburbs, its 180-foot spire rose dramatically against a rocky promontory. Wenzhou, called “China’s Jerusalem” for the churches dotting the cityscape, was known for its relaxed ties between church and state, and local officials lauded the church as a model project.

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‘In God We Trust’ Does Not Violate Atheist’s Rights, Appeals Court Rules

some-pennsylvania-lawmakers-are-trying-to-pass-a-law-that-would-install-in-god-we-trust-signs-in-every-public-school[1]The phrase “In God We Trust” used on U.S. currency does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Wednesday to deny the request of atheist Rosalyn Newdow to have the phrase “In God We Trust” removed from all U.S. currency. Newdow, a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed her lawsuit against U.S. Congress in 2013, arguing that the religious phrase violated the U.S. Establishment Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. [Read more]

Another Pain in the Neck for Intelligent Design

neuron-300x166[1]For those of us who consider the “Theory of Evolution” a figure of speech, not an invitation to call into question the veracity of an established scientific principle—evolution is a fact, not a theory—what the Louisiana State Senate Education Committee failed to do in April was at the very least disappointing, and at most a dangerous example of an unwillingness to accept the world for what it is, and a failure to appreciate the immeasurable value of separating church from state. [Read more]

The Ain Dara Temple and the Giant Footsteps of the Gods

Ain-Dara-Temple[1]Ain Dara is a small village in the northwest of Aleppo, Syria, which boasts a remarkable structure – the Ain Dara Temple, located just west of the village.  The temple was discovered in 1955, when a colossal basalt lion was found, quite accidentally, in fact. Following this find, excavations were carried out in subsequent years. The Ain Dara Temple is an Iron Age Syro-Hittite temple. The Syro-Hittites or Neo-Hittites were a group of political entities that emerged towards the end of the 2nd millennium B.C. [Read more]

Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws: Islam or Hislam?

openquran[1]In January 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his own security guards over a controversial move — opposing the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Although thousands of Pakistanis condemned this by attending his funeral and showing support on social media, religious fanatics hailed his murderer as a hero, recently naming a mosque after him. As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression. [Read more]

Santa Barbara Shooter Says He ‘Will Be a God’ and People He ‘Slaughter’ Will Be Animals; Local Church Offers Prayer

santa-barbara-shooter-elliot-rodger[1]The suspect who killed six people and injured 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara Friday night was identified as a 22-year-old mentally disturbed man, Elliot Rodger, who videotaped his desire to “slaughter” women for rejecting him. A church in the area has offered assistance to anyone who needs prayers or counselling. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters Saturday evening that the suspect was wounded by officers before he seemingly “took his own life.” [Read more]

Bridging Science and Religion

042914_Brown_0189.jpgShelley Brown was pointing toward a life of cutting-edge stem cell research. Then one day in 2010, she says, she encountered the divine. “Something was moving, and I thought I must have hit the petri dish by accident,” said Brown, who had been trying to direct a set of stem cells toward bone cells during her Ph.D. work in biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan. [Read more]

When the Earth Had Two Moons

3388_621fbd17da27241c58015eabe4164a52[1]For more than half a century, the moon had been mocking the best minds in science, and for Erik Asphaug enough was enough. The taunting began three years before Asphaug was born. On Oct. 7, 1959, the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft looped behind the moon, snapping off a series of grainy but distinct photos and then radioing them home. Because the moon’s rotation is perfectly synchronized with its revolution, one hemisphere always points toward Earth while the other always points away, unseen. [Read more]

Think Fast, Robot

robot-hand[1]One of the reasons we don’t yet have self-driving cars and miniature helicopters delivering online purchases is that autonomous vehicles tend not to perform well under pressure. A system that can flawlessly parallel park at 5 mph may have trouble avoiding obstacles at 35 mph. Part of the problem is the time it takes to produce and interpret camera data. An autonomous vehicle using a standard camera to monitor its surroundings might take about a fifth of a second to update its location. [Read more]

If You Serve Your Country, Do You Have to Serve God?

lead[1]Jason Heap didn’t get the job. Last summer, he set off a small flurry of media coverage when he submitted his application to join the U.S. Navy’s chaplaincy. He has an Oxford degree in ecclesiastical history and more than a decade of experience in teaching and pastoral work. He’s physically fit, 38 years old—by all accounts, a pretty normal candidate for this kind of position. [Read more]
School Scratches Mormon Museum Field Trip

When Westvale Elementary School, West Jordan, Utah, sent permission slips home April 24 for a fourth-grade field trip to the Church History Museum, which is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some parents parents were immediately wary. West Jordan is just south of Salt Lake City, headquarters for the LDS Church. [Read more]

Godless Living in America: What Can the Godless Do in a Religious Society?

Godless Americans are much like other people in America: they grow up, date, get married, raise children, celebrate holidays, and all the other things which religious theists do. Godless Americans simply do it all without the sort of structures provided by religion or theism. [Read more]

Only Old People Attend Church

Jana-Slider4-300x109[1]When I hear the word “church”, I think of little old ladies who bake delicious cookies and wear cardigans all year because they’re always cold.  Or I think of a glorified rock concert.  The worship team has sprung “Moves Like Jagger”, and they seem to be more focused about entertaining than glorifying God.  It’s silly.  It’s kitschy.  And I don’t buy it.  It’s not sincere. [Download MP3]

Pledging To Respect Everyone’s Rights: N.Y. School Allows Student To Opt Out Of Patriotic Exercise

A spat over a high school student’s decision to opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance has been favorably resolved. The administrators of Southside High School in Elmira, N.Y., have agreed to allow a student to sit during the Pledge in response to a letter from the American Humanist Association (AHA). [Read more]