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Rejection Doesn’t Stop Campaign to Become Military’s First Humanist Chaplain

image[1]A Navy chaplain candidate who believes people can pursue “good without a god” said the recent rejection of his application wouldn’t stop his campaign to become the military’s first humanist chaplain. Jason Heap, an atheist who holds master’s degrees in divinity and religious history, applied for a commission as a chaplain in July 2013 and learned in late May that he’d been turned down. “I am exceptionally disappointed and aggrieved by the Navy’s initial rejection of my application,” he said in a written statement. “I will continue to seek acceptance. I hope military leaders will open their hearts to humanists and give me the opportunity to serve all sailors as a chaplain for the next 20 years or more.” [Read more]

Americans Will Tolerate a Variety of In-Laws. One Exception: Atheists

family_dinner.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge[1]new study from the Pew Research Center shows that political polarization in the United States has reached levels only seen during the Civil War, but when it comes to our own families, we’re not quite as divided. One of the questions Pew asks to gauge how seriously people are taking their identity politics these days is how upset would you be if an immediate family member—say, a child or a sibling—married someone outside of your identity parameters. The good news: Americans are okay with their family members marrying someone who isn’t in their “tribe.” [Read more]

More Stupid Claims That Atheists Are the Same as Religious Fundamentalists

militant-atheist[1]Don’t websites or magazines require original content any more? I’m not referring to sites like BuzzFeed that recycle or collect stuff from other sites, but places like Psychology Today that purport to publish original material. Apparently not. The public, or editors, still seems to have an hearty appetite for atheist-bashing, even though every type of bashing has long ago been exhausted.  Yet in a new piece at Psychology Today, “Atheists are fundamentalists too” by Loretta Graziano Breuning, we see the tired and bogus accusations surface once again, and from an atheist-butter (see below). [Read more]

Australian Singer Shelley Segal Stirs Up Drug Furore in Morocco

1400049238343.jpg-300x0[1]Melbourne folk singer-songwriter has been criticised in the Moroccan press and attacked in social media for a song she wrote about drug-taking in the country. Shelley Segal wrote the song, Morocco, about her experience when she visited the country as a 19-year-old in 2007 and made a video in Marrakesh and Essaouira to accompany it. Soon after she posted the video online, she found a story written in French on Moroccan news site, Afriquinfos, claiming she had “denounced the kingdom” in the song. [Read more]

Muslim-Christian Strains Not Due to Theological Disputes: Lutheran Leader

indonesian-lutheran-congregation[1]There are growing tensions between Christian and Islamic communities, especially in Muslim-majority societies, but these cannot be ascribed to theological disagreements says the president of the Lutheran World Federation. Bishop Munib A. Younan addressed the main governing body of the LWF, its council June 12 in Medan Indonesia, the country in the world with the biggest Muslim population. Christians living in Muslim-majority societies “are facing a crisis of immense proportions.” “We are experiencing more and more instances of violent encounter with extremist Muslims,” said Bishop Younan. [Read more]

I May Be Excommunicated from My Church for Asking for Equal Rights

kate_kelly[1]On Sunday, I will be tried in absentia for apostasy by the leaders of my former congregation in the Mormon church. I face potential excommunication for the simple act of opening my mouth and starting a conversation about gender equality in the church and the deep roots of this institutional inequality. My grave situation is another example of how silencing women has long been a top communications priority for patriarchical institutions, both literally and figuratively. [Read more]

Published Paper Blames Schizophrenia on Demons

244886[1]Is schizophrenia caused by demons? A Turkish researcher seems to think so, and his article on the topic was just published in the Journal of Religion and Health, a scientific journal owned by Springer, a German-based publishing company. The first two-thirds of M. Kemal Irmak’s paper, “Schizophrenia or Possession?”, read normally enough. You learn about the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia, current treatment approaches, and the nature of the delusions and hallucinations that schizophrenics experience. [Read more]

Evolution is a Lie Says the School. Good Curriculum, Says England’s School Inspectorate

godlessevolution[1]Maranatha Christian Schoolfeatured in a BBC news report this week, teaches that the Earth is 6,000 years old, that this is a scientifically established fact, and that evolution has long since been scientifically disproven. Then why do some scientists still advocate it? Because they don’t want to admit the existence of a God to whom they would be morally responsible. It is these same benighted evolutionists who are responsible for the theory that the Sun is powered by nuclear fusion., whereas in reality it is powered by gravity, and shrinking at such a rate that it would have been large enough to engulf the young Earth if the Earth really were millions of years old. [Read more]

Roane Co. Commissioner Disputes Putting “In God We Trust” on Courthouse

3982796_G[1]A proposal to put the phrase “In God We Trust” on the Roane County courthouse is moving forward but not without a fight from one county commissioner. Roane County Commissioner Steve Keller says he’s been an atheist since he was a teen. “It means I don’t believe in God,” explained Keller. “I don’t have any problem with religion, religion is fine, it serves an important role in our society but not everybody has to have a belief.” Commissioner Randy Ellis sponsored the resolution, and it went before the property committee last week. Kelley was the lone no vote. [Read more]

Stop Calling Hobby Lobby a Christian Business

hobby-lobby-does-an-awful-lot-of-business-with-a-country-that-denies-its-citizens-freedom-of[1]“We’re Christians,” Hobby Lobby’s president Steve Green proclaims, “and we run our business on Christian principles.” That is music to the ears of many conservative Christians, who rallied around Hobby Lobby when the retail chain argued at the Supreme Court that ObamaCare’s contraception mandate unlawfully burdened their religious beliefs. But a closer look at Hobby Lobby’s actual business practices reveals this claim to be as hollow as a flute. [Read more]

Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property

shutterstock_96065306[1]When it comes to the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment, which forbids the establishment of a state religion by the government even if a majority supports it, is something most of us heartedly support. But not all. The religious right despises the First Amendment, since it’s constantly foiled their efforts to inject Christian doctrine into government. And when they’ve lost in court, religious conservatives in the U.S. have often waged campaigns of threats, harassment and outright violence against First Amendment plaintiffs, in the hopes of intimidating them into backing down and achieving by mob violence what they can’t achieve under the law. [Read more]

The War on Christians

WELL.v19-39.June23.Marshall-4.Newscom[1]For at least three reasons, the contemporary persecution of Christians demands attention: It is occurring on a massive scale, it is under-reported, and in many parts of the world it is rapidly growing. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that Christians are suffering persecution in more places today than any other religious group; between 2006 and 2012, Pew says, they were targeted for harassment in 151 countries—three-quarters of the world’s states. Similar findings are reported by the Vatican, Newsweek, theEconomist, and the 60-year-old Christian support group Open Doors. Most people in the West are unaware of these facts, though that may be changing. [Read more]

Priest Killed with Gun Owned by Colleague

Gary MoranA homeless ex-convict is being held on $1 million bond, accused of beating a priest with a metal rod in his residence at a Phoenix church and then wrestling away a handgun owned by the clergyman before fatally shooting the man’s assistant. Gary Michael Moran, 54, was arrested Sunday night on suspicion of first-degree murder, burglary, and armed robbery, among other charges, police announced Monday. Authorities said Moran, an ex-convict with a history of violence and drug abuse, stole a camera from the priests and fled in the car of the Rev. Kenneth Walker, who died in the attack. The vehicle was found abandoned a few blocks away from the church. [Read more]

A Lesson On Faith From Neil deGrasse Tyson

1-12-14-Neil-deGrasse-Tyson-inside-main-ftr[1]While my father-in-law was in town last week we caught up – or I caught up, he had already seen it – on the season finale of Cosmos. It fitting fashion, Neil deGrasse Tyson ended the first season of his revamped version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos with Sagan’s own now famous pale blue dot monologue. But before cutting to the credits, Tyson added a few thoughts of his own that I thought the church would do well to listen to. [Read more]

Life in the Fundamentalist Bible Bubble

bible-absolute-truth[1]An anonymous commenter left the following comment on the Galatians 4 blog: “if the Bible is not truth; the Word of God – then NO ONE can be saved. If we do not believe the Bible, we cannot be saved.” The post this comment was left on was a post titled, The IFB Pastor Turned Atheist: Those Who Fall Away. This post is about my defection from Christianity. The author of the blog post agrees with the anonymous commenter’s view that if a person does not believe the Bible is truth they cannot be saved. Here’s the problem with this view. First, it makes salvation dependent on reading the right words and believing the right things. Second, the first century Christian church had no Bible.  They had the Old Testament, a text that makes no mention of Christian salvation, and oral traditions. [Read more]

Deepak Chopra Embarrasses Himself By Offering a Million-Dollar Prize

I realize now that Chopra’s affliction with Maru’s Syndrome—the condition described by Dr. Maru as “When I see a box, I cannot help but enter”—is a chronic condition. Although Chopra feints at friendliness, enticing me to his fancy conference with a big honorarium, and trying to pal around with Michael Shermer (who, I suspect, doesn’t like Chopra), in reality he’s as thin-skinned as ever. What has really wounded Deepakity is the intimation by people like Shermer, Dawkins, Sam Harris, and me, that he is not a scientist.

[Read more]

Supreme Court Upholds Decision Barring Graduation in Church

The Supreme Court gave supporters of church-state separation a rare and surprising victory Monday, leaving intact a lower-court decision that barred a public school district in Wisconsin from holding its graduation ceremonies in an evangelical Christian church. [Read more]

Got Religion on Campus? Leave It Off Your Resume

Recent college grads, take note: Mentioning a campus religion group on your resume — particularly a Muslim club — may lead to significantly fewer job opportunities. Two new sociology studies find new graduates who included a religious mention on a resume were much less likely to hear back from potential employers. [Read more]

Biblical Illiteracy in US at Crisis Point, Says Bible Expert

For the past 15 years that Kenneth Berding has been teaching the New Testament, he admits that his students have always had little knowledge about the Bible. But today, he says, biblical illiteracy has reached a crisis point. [Read more]

List of Responses to Defenders of the Historicity of Jesus

Now that my new book On the Historicity of Jesus has finally become available, for convenience I will be collecting here links to all the responses I’ve published to defenders of the historicity of Jesus. So this article will be continually updated with new entries, and I will keep the order alphabetical by last name of the scholar responded to (when I know it). [Read more]

Americans United, Allies Ask Federal Court To Strike Down Same-Sex Marriage Bans in Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and its allies have asked a federal appeals court to uphold lower court rulings that struck down same-sex marriage bans in Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan. [Read more]

Nuns Sue Strip Club Near Their Chicago-Area Convent

A group of Chicago-area nuns is suing a strip club behind their convent, complaining of noise, glaring neon lights, fist fights and heaps of litter that include empty whiskey bottles and used condoms. [Read more]

Religion Rules at School Approved by NC Lawmakers

A bill heading to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk attempts to make clear how public school students and staff can express religious beliefs. The Senate gave final legislative approval Monday in a 48-1 vote to the measure explaining how schools should comply with federal law and guidance on constitutionally protected prayer. [Read more]

The Man Who Says He Can ‘Destroy’ Evolution

The topic of creationism and evolution has long caused heated debates, and the conversation has found a new, more involved, battleground – social media. More than 170,000 people have shared a recent video which claims to “destroy” the case for evolution. [Read more]

Justices Reject Appeal Over Graduations in Church

The Supreme Court has left in place a court decision that said public high school graduations in a church adorned with religious symbols violated the separation of church and state. The justices’ action Monday comes more than a month after the court upheld Christian prayer at the start of town council meetings. [Read more]

Quantum Math Could Explain Irrationality

Quantum theory, developed about a century ago to explain the puzzling behavior of elementary particles, could also help explain seemingly irrational aspects of human reasoning. The mathematics behind this highly successful physics theory has now provided a way to explain why people respond differently to survey questions depending on the questions’ ordering, scientists reportJune 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Read more]

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