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Forget Christopher Hitchens: Atheism in America is Undergoing a Radical Change

christopher_hitchens5-620x412[1]It’s surprising just how much media analysis, both mainstream and progressive, continues to take as given the notion that atheism can be defined and discussed solely by looking at the so-called “New Atheists” who emerged roughly between 2004 and 2007. It’s easy to understand the appeal: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens became prominent representatives of atheism because they were all erudite, entertaining and unafraid to say what they thought. [Read more]

Less Than a Third of Americans Say Bible Is Actual Word of God, Should Be Taken Literally

a-bible-is-seen-in-this-file-photo[1]According to the findings of a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, 28 percent of Americans believe that the Bible was “the actual word of God” and that it should be “taken literally, word for word.” Forty percent of Americans agreed with that statement in 1979 — a record high — though the number has since declined every year with the exception of 2012. Nearly 50 percent of Americans agree that the Bible is the “inspired word of God” and that not all of its content should be taken literally. [Read more]

The Choice of When to Die Should Be That of the Individual – Not Religious Leaders

350x[1]The campaigning group Dignity in Dying has launched a campaign aimed at the three main party leaders asking them to support a change in the law on assisted dying. You can sign a petition here. Surveys repeatedly show that 80% or more of the population would support such a change and yet, whenever the matter comes to parliament it is stymied by religious interests. There is now even an instruction booklet telling Christians how to campaign against any reforms. [Read more]

Belfast Preacher Who Denounced Islam as Evil Issues Apology

Northern Ireland first minister, Peter Robinson, visits the Belfast Islamic CentreA born-again Christian preacher from Belfast who denounced Islam as “satanic” and the “spawn of the devil” has issued a public apology over remarks that ended up de-stabilising Northern Ireland‘s power-sharing government. Pastor James McConnell said he never had any intention to “arouse fear or stir up or incite hatred” towards any Muslim in the region. The preacher’s statement was issued just hours before the Police Service of Northern Ireland questioned him about his comments and allegations that he had been inciting hatred. [Read more]

Palestinian Lutheran Bishop to Pray with Pope Francis, Israeli and Palestinian Presidents

bishop-munib-younan[1]Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan will participate in an inter-religious service of prayer for peace at the Vatican on Pentecost Sunday at which Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas will be present. Younan is a Palestinian who is president of the Lutheran World Federation and has asked Lutheran and other faith communities around the world to join in praying for peace. [Read more]

Brave New Life: Part 2 Coming Out When You Expect The Worst

phone-300x224[1]This post is part of a series, click here to start with the introduction. We were in our new home, we were starting to un-pack. We even went to the library and got library cards. But it wasn’t time to relax yet, there was still one thing left to do. We had to come out. We had taken the baby steps, we had come out to ourselves and each other, that was huge, and then we had confided in a select few who we knew to be compassionate and supportive, but the next step was a whole different game. [Read more]

Research Shows Compassion and Euthanasia Don’t Always Jibe

preserved-brain_0[1]New research from Case Western Reserve University found that compassion can produce counter-intuitive results, challenging prevailing views of empathy’s effects on moral judgment. To understand how humans make moral choices, researchers asked subjects to respond to a variety of moral dilemmas, for instance: Whether to stay and defend a mortally wounded soldier until he dies or shoot him to protect him from enemy torture and enable you and five other soldiers to escape unharmed. [Read more]

Complaint Lodged After Scottish Parliament Used to Launch Evangelical Christian Manifesto

350x[1]Secular campaigners in Scotland have lodged a formal complaint after the Scottish Parliament was used by an evangelical Christian group to launch a manifesto ahead of the Scottish independence referendum taking place in September. Edinburgh Secular Society (ESS) claims official guidance was breached when Holyrood was used by Evangelical Alliance Scotland (EAS) to host a reception to mark the publication of its manifesto entitled What Kind of Nation? [Read more]

“Fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote”: The Freedom from Religion Foundation Calls Out Lebanon’s School Board and Superintendent

page-1[1]Below is a copy of the letter that the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent yesterday to the Superintendent of the Lebanon, Missouri School District, as well as to all members of the Lebanon School Board. The author, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott, lays out on pages 2 and 3 the legal case (and the precedents) for Principal Lowery’s speech constituting a violation of the First Amendment. [Read more]

Wedding Invitation Company Cites Religious Beliefs for Refusing Services to Gay Couple

350x[1]The National Secular Society has said that legal action under equality legislation should be taken against a wedding stationer for refusing to serve a gay couple on religious grounds. Jill Wilson, who runs Just For You Invitations, based in Lancashire, refused because of her religious beliefs to offer her services to Gary O’Reilly and his fiancé. [Read more]

The Decline of Biblical Literalism and the Rise of Secularism in One Chart

Grapic_bible_060514-807x585[1]America could be experiencing a decline of literalism and the rise of secularism, according to one interpretation of a recent Gallup Poll. The poll, which measured Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, found that 28 percent of Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God — close to the lowest point ever found in the survey. About 40 percent of Americans said the same thing in the late 1970s. [Read more]

‘Unique’ Religious Freedom Restrictions in Saudi Arabia: Not a Single Church Exists, Entire Country Is ‘Sacred Mosque,’ Watchdog Reveals

president-barack-obama-l-and-king-abdullah-r[1]Christians and religious minorities face a “unique” form of religious freedom restrictions in Saudi Arabia, a persecution watchdog group says, noting that not a single church is allowed to exist in the country. “Not a single church or other non-Muslim house of worship exists in the country,” says Bandar al-Aiban, the director of the Saudi National Human Rights commission. [Read more]

Christian Charity Launches Booklet “Equipping Christians to Take Action Against Assisted Suicide”

350x[1]A Christian charity has launched a booklet aimed at equipping Christians with arguments against euthanasia and assisted suicide so that they can take action ahead of expected renewed attempts to change the law across Britain. The booklet, authored by Chief Executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, Dr Peter Saunders (right), was produced by Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), a Christian charity seeking to provide “resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives”. [Read more]

Hobby Lobby President’s Bible Curriculum Provides Faulty Lessons On Slavery, Women’s Suffrage And Albert Einstein

A new report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund details how a pilot high school curriculum developed by Hobby Lobby’s president Steve Green is loose with the facts and flouts constitutional boundaries on religious instruction in public schools and is loose with the facts. [Read more]

Young Conservatives Are Setting Out on a Crusade Against Homophobic Party Language

Over the piano chords of Macklemore’s “Same Love,” the daughter of a former Republican presidential nominee says, “Hi, I’m Meghan McCain, and I support the freedom to marry.” [Read more]

How to Talk to a Christian Fundamentalist (If You Must)

For 16 years, I had published a civic-oriented Christian family newspaper which, in retrospect, was an extreme far-right “biblical family values” publication. The editorial perspective of the paper was anti-birth control, anti-choice, anti-social welfare, patriarchal, and Dominionist. I honestly believed that the Bible provided all the answers to the world’s problems and ought to be America’s law book for government and society. [Read more]

James Dobson Is Offended Everyone Didn’t Love His National Day Of Prayer Speech

James Dobson is offended that anybody took offense at his hyper-partisan National Day of Prayer speech last month, and feels that he was slighted not only by a Democratic congresswoman who walked out during his address but also by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, whom he is accusing of “disrespectful” treatment. [Read more]

Opponents of Health-Care Law Turn to Faith-Based Nonprofits to Cover Medical Expenses

Susan Tucker is one of millions of Americans who dislike the health law and want nothing to do with it. But the 54-year-old Venice, Fla., homemaker took her opposition a step further: She opted out. [Read more]

Wyoming Religious Leaders Support Gay Marriage

Thirty-one religious leaders in Wyoming have signed a statement calling for the state to allow gay marriage. A group called Wyoming Unites for Marriage collected the signatures. [Read more]

Philly Archdiocese Sues Over Obamacare HHS Mandate

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s political statements surrounding President Obama began well before the Catholic leader ever came to Philadelphia. “Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis,” he told a Toronto, Canada crowd in February 2009. [Read more]