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Watchmen on the Wall: Pastors Prepare to Take Back America

Tony Perkins,On the evening of May 21, a group of fifty pastors stood soaking wet in the Capitol rotunda, undeterred by the rainstorm outside. Beneath the giant painting Baptism of Pocahontas, David Barton, an evangelical advocate for what he believes is the besieged Christian heritage of the United States, was holding forth on the nation’s spiritual history. Pocahontas, he was saying, really wanted to be known by the Christian name Rebecca, but America’s politically correct textbooks insist on calling her Pocahontas. [Read more]

11 Bizarre Church Laws That Could Send You To Jail

o-76132355-570[1]Some states take their religious services very seriously. Breaking these laws could send you straight from the chapel to the cooler for something as simple as a sneeze. Though these appear to all still be on the books, a lawyer probably wouldn’t have a prayer of successfully prosecuting anyone arrested for eating peanuts in church. At least, we hope not… Courtesy of DumbLaws.com, here are eleven strange church laws that could get you arrested. [Read more]

Evolution Sparks Silence of the Crickets

EFC09580-5B5F-4416-BE57207190ADCE7D_article[1]Populations of a male cricket on different Hawaiian islands have lost their ability to chirp as a result of separate, but simultaneous, evolutionary adaptations to their wings. The changes, which allow the insects to avoid attracting a parasitic fly, occurred independently over just 20 generations and are visible to the human eye, a study reveals. The findings could help to shed light on the earliest stages of convergent evolution — when separate groups or populations independently evolve similar adaptations in response to natural selection. [Read more]

In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins

mh7klzb21ue_tb0a1h_86q[1]More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process. However, the percentage who say God was not involved is rising. This latest update is from Gallup’s Values and Beliefs survey conducted May 8-11. [Read more]

Navy Rejects Request for First Humanist Chaplain

495413551[1]After the Army recently permitted “humanist” as a religious preference, many hoped a humanist chaplain might follow. But the Navy last week rejected the application of Jason Heap for a commission, a Navy official familiar with the case confirmed. The details of the decision were not divulged due to privacy concerns. Heap was not immediately available for comment, but groups that have pushed for his commission — and other accommodations for nontheistic members of the military — were disappointed. [Read more]

ACLU Questions Thomas Walker High Graduation Hymn, Other First Amendment Issues

3574ea1aec6484018d9995cf79dafa82[1]The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter last month to Lee County Public School officials warning them of potential First Amendment violations involving faculty and staff at Thomas Walker High School. In the May 22 letter addressed to Lee County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Allen Carter, ACLU of Virginia Legal Counsel Rebecca K. Glenberg wrote that it would be unconstitutional for the school to have students sing a hymn during its graduation program scheduled for June 6. [Read more]

Mixing Soul Medicines

20140531_blp505[1]Secular psychiatry and traditional religion haven’t always co-existed happily. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, regarded religion as a neurosis which was “childish” in the worst sense. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the leading American Catholics of the 20th century, scornfully declared that the “in the whole gamut of modern psychology, there is nothing written on frustrations, fears and anxieties that even remotely compares” with the insights of saintly Christian thinkers like Augustine. [Read more]

Why Salma Hayek Adapting The Prophet for Screen Makes Sense

elvis_1401723271[1]Recently at the Cannes Film Festival, actress Salma Hayek premiered parts of her film adaptation of the 1923 spiritual classic The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. The animated film, reflecting the episodic format of the book, is divided into eight separate short but related films, each with a different director. Some critics remarked on the oddity of this celebrated Hollywood star choosing as her first producing project what most of us think of as a somewhat old-fashioned spiritual classic. As the L.A. Times put it, it’s “for meditative types.” [Read more]

Racism Lives On Under the Cover of ‘Religious Freedom’

lead[1]In most parts of America, “separate but equal” seems like the vestige of a bygone era. Segregated lunch counters, race-divided bathrooms, signs reading “whites only”—these are anachronisms of the 1960s, half a century into the country’s past. Except where they’re not. In an interesting new survey, the Public Religion Research Institute found that 10 percent of Americans believe business owners should be able to refuse to serve black people if they see that as a violation of their religious beliefs. [Read more]

Public Schools Could Give Credit for Religious Courses

-wnbiblestudy2.jpg20090408[1]Public school students could receive credit for religious courses they take off campus during regular school hours, as part of a slew of school-related changes that lawmakers advanced Tuesday. Lawmakers also outlined new graduation tests for incoming ninth graders, aimed at alleviating parents’ and teachers’ fears about new Common Core tests and compromised on how much teachers should be judged by their students’ performance. [Read more]

Why Anti-Vaxxers And Climate Change Deniers Believe Things That Aren’t True

NDYxNTQ1M2MxYyMvQVhNS0NKMTkybTNmTDNGMVpoUm5RTnhoanJ3PS8weDA6ODM4eDUyOS84NDB4NTMwL3MzLmFtYXpvbmF3cy5jb20vcG9saWN5bWljLWltYWdlcy9kYjBjYjJmYmE2MTU5OGVjZjUyYTc0ZjhmNWNmNzgwNmIwNDEzYWZkMz[1]The other week, House Republicans passed a bill blatantly ignoring something 99% of scientists agree on. For several years now, anti-vaxx truthers have been vehemently arguing that vaccines are dangerous and cause autism, despite countless scientific studies finding otherwise. There are countless lies about things like marijuana and sex, and even with strong scientific evidence, a lot of people never want to change their mind. [Read more]

An Afterlife for Europe’s Disused Places of Worship

03iht-letter03-articleLarge[1]When a church closes its doors, it is a sad day for its parishioners. When it is slated for demolition, it is a sad day for the larger community, as Lilian Grootswagers realized in 2005 when she and her neighbors in the small Dutch village of Kaatsheuvel learned that St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church was due to be torn down and replaced by a four-story apartment block. [Read more]

Unusual Religions Around the World

Aetherius7-300x191[1]While there are a large number of weird religions and cult followings in existence, there are a few lesser-known belief systems that may shock you.
Aetherius Society – If you believe in aliens and the healing powers of yoga, following the teachings of Aetherius might be for you. Founded by George King in the mid-1950s, supporters of this religion believe that Aetherius is a “Cosmic Master” from Venus who telepathically speaks to King as the voice of the Interplanetary Parliament. [Read more]

Pat Robertson Unveils Gay-Repelling Necklace

cbn_700club_sikh_120806a-615x345-645x325[1]Televangelist and 700 Club host Pat Robertson, 83, today interrupted a segment of his show dedicated to fielding audience questions to describe the method by which he has remained “straight and AIDS-free” throughout his long preaching career. Robertson—whose show reaches nearly 1 million viewers a day—said that, since 1969, he’s been wearing an “anti-sodomite” necklace, which, according to Robertson, “repels homosexuals and other queers, and keeps [him] free of their abhorrent lifestyles and gay diseases.” [Read more]

Allen West Calls for New Crusade to Take Back White House for Christianity

fox_ff_allen_west-645x325[1]Former GOP congressman Allen West this week posted on his website that the White House had been claimed by Islam and called for fellow Christians to join him in a ‘Crusade’ to Washington D.C. to take it back for Christianity by force. “Folks, we cannot stand by and let our nation’s symbol of truth, justice, and the American way be co-opted by the false faith of Islam,” he wrote. [Read more]

The Stunning Resurgence of Progressive Christianity

Nuns Bus TourAnyone born within the last 50 years would be justified in thinking that Jesus’ teachings and Christian preachings were the exclusive domain of social and fiscal conservatives. The ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were dominated by Christians with names like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson who leveraged television and radio to make theirs the default religious voice in America. [Read more]

What Does the First Amendment Say About Displaying Religious Symbols?

Is bringing religious symbols into public school classrooms ever OK? Many educators struggle with this question, afraid of tripping over the lines that protect our freedom of religion and separate church and state. [Read more]

5 Ways to Meddle with Memory

1. Psychologists at Northwestern University showed that each time you recall an event, your brain alters the memory by integrating new information—perhaps drawing on your current mood, activity or location, among other things. [Read more]

Creationist in Montana GOP Senate Primary

Two weeks ago we posted Republican Primaries Suppress Creationists, about how establishment Republicans, led by Karl Rove, had been successful in several key G.O.P. primaries. The general idea, which seemed to be having some success, was based on the Buckley rule — William Buckley always said he was in favor of the most conservative candidate who is electable. [Read more]

I’m a Student at Lebanon High School and I Thought My Principal’s Religious Graduation Speech Was Distasteful

Over the weekend, I posted about how Kevin Lowery, the principal of Lebanon High School (Missouri), gave a very unusual greeting speech at graduation. It was full of references to how religious he was and how our currency and motto point to God’s impact and influence on our country.

[Read more]

Pennsylvania Bill Encourages Schools 
to Post ‘In God We Trust’ and the Bill of Rights

The state House of Representatives on Monday approved legislation encouraging schools to post the national motto, “In God We Trust,” and the Bill of Rights. The bill passed the chamber 172-24. [Read more]

Bibles, Atheist Books to be Distributed Near Boone County Schools

When students at Boone County Schools leave for the summer, they have the option to take two books home with them, Bibles and “The Young Atheists Survival Guide” by Hermant Mehta. The Boone County School System is not handing out either of these books, but instead granted permission to both Gideons International and the Tri-State Freethinkers to be in the public right of way near all of the high school campuses in Boone County. [Read more]

Pennsylvania Diocese Latest to Sue Over HHS Mandate

Claiming it infringes on the Catholic Church’s religious liberty, the Diocese of Greensburg and Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt have filed suit against the federal requirement that most employers cover contraceptives in their employee health plans. [Read more]

Covenant Life Church Pastors Face Scrutiny Over Ex-Church Member’s Abuse

Early last year, the pastors of Covenant Life Church — a congregation of several thousand in the middle of Montgomery County — faced a crisis. Detectives had just charged a former member with molesting four teenage boys more than two decades earlier and indicated that, back then, some church leaders looked the other way. [Read more]