Here we go again. Yesterday, November 26, 2013 theSupreme Court announced they would hear a case that would decide if corporations can have religious belief.
This same court has already disastrously decided that corporations are people, and now in their hands is the chance to decide if these corporations can hide behind religious “freedom”.
The court agreed to hear an appeal from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,which sided with Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based chain of craft stores owned by a Christian family who claimed that the birth-control mandate violated their company’s religious freedom. The court also agreed to hear an appeal from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which went the opposite way, finding that Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a cabinet manufacturer, did not have the same religious conscience rights as an individual. The split between these two circuit courts and other appeals courts, plus almost 50 other cases in the pipeline, meant that the Supreme Court was almost forced to weigh in.
So Hobby Lobby brought this case forward when their owner refused to offer healthcare under the Affordable Care Act mandate that required women have access to birth control. Hobby Lobby claimed that it violated their religious beliefs.
American Atheists announced today, November 25, 2013 that over the Thanksgiving week, they would be running 6 billboard ads throughout the state of New Jersey calling for people to give real help aid over prayer, bibles or religion.
According to the press release:
The billboards are located in New Jersey along I-80, I-95, and I-78, and are expected to reach half a million commuters daily.
When disaster strikes, people such as the Pope and other religious leaders often call on their followers to pray for the victims of such a disaster, yet you rarely hear them asking for the most important thing. Aid.
Money, clothing and food would do much more good for disaster victims rather than sitting in your house talking to your deity of choice.
The Guardian reported on November 19, 2013 that a new study has been released looking at islamophobic attacks against women.
They study found Islamic women are attacked more than Islamic men, especially when wearing a niqab or clothing associated with their religion.
The report, entitled We Are Hated was written by Dr Chris Allen from the University of Birmingham, will be launched in the House of Commons on Wednesday, according to the Guardian.
Islamophobia is a growing problem worldwide, and real Islamophobia, not the media based “new atheist” brand of religious criticism of Islam from those like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, that everyone seems to think is Islamophobic.
This study is looking at actual Islamophonic attacks that that are violent and threatening towards the person, not a belief.
The Discovery Institute claims that Scott has been lying when making the claim that evolution is an uncontested theory, yet they ignore the fact that this is in fact a true statement. In the scientific community, evolution is uncontested.
There is a battle raging in the United States. The fight over secular versus sectarian values. The Christian right is fighting to create the perfect theocracy while the secularists, well, they are busy removing ten commandment displays and suing cities over Christmas parades.
At least that is what author CJ Werleman sees and highlights in his new book Crucifying America: The Unholy Alliance Between the Christian Right and Wall Street, and it is hard to argue with him.
Politicians across the nation from Senator Wendy Davis standing up for women’s rights, or Senator Elizabeth Warren standing up against the Wall Street cronies, are taking the fight we should all be fighting to the government. Yet atheists and secularists seem to get wrapped up in winning small battles that do not change the direction of the country. As the Christian right becomes a small and smaller percentage of the country, we continue to allow them to be the dominant faction.
Firing teachers is all the rage these days in private religious schools around the United States. Recently reported was Professor Heather Clements who was fired from Azusa Pacific University after she made the announcement she was transitioning into a male.
Now it is Tippi McCullough, Teacher at Mount St. Mary’s in Little Rock, AK. McCullough received a phone call 40 minutes after marrying her partner –another female– telling her that she had violated the schools “morality clause” and was offered the choice to resign and receive a great recommendation, or she could refuse and be fired.
The continued problem here is that these schools, the Catholic Church and many religions in general seem to think consensual marriage lies in the realm of morality. It does not.
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When I think about reading a book about secularism I envision a sort of how to book for activism, or a book full of anecdotes to make the challenges of living in a religious society easier. However, what author Susan K. Perry –a best-selling author who has published six non-fiction books including Writing in Flow: Keys to Enhanced Creativity– offers in her first novel, Kylie’s Heel is something more.
The very first thing that stood out to me about this book was how it read, it is so real to life, viewing the world through Kylie’s eyes, as though you are reading her private diary, it feels very personal. You get glimpses of important moments or periods in her life, but suddenly at the end of a thought you are leaped weeks into the future. I found this realistic with how life seems to go for most of us. Many novels try to fill total gaps in time with wistful adventures that seem unrealistic, when in reality, we all know much of life may be spent in front of a TV or just reading a book.
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There has been a lot of talk recently about Oprah’s comments after she told swimmer Diana Nyad that atheists do not experience awe and wonder. And now even more talk about how she owes the atheist community an apology.
Oprah is equating any sense of awe with spirituality, and therefore claiming you are not an atheist if you are spiritual. Fox news quickly ran to her defense, an obvious move as David Viviano points out in this blog:
“Fox News runs to her defense only because atheists are involved, we know that already. Claiming that she only stated her opinion, well opinion or not it is wrong and it deserves to be called out. Just like the bigots that say homosexuality is an abomination, its wrong and deserves to be called out. If I have an opinion that I think a sports team is horrible but they win the championship is my opinion wrong?”
So does she owe atheists around the world an apology? Maybe, but I would rather see her apologize directly to Nyad. Oprah has a poor definition of what atheism is and attempts then to tell Nyad what she believes, instead of accepting Nyad’s beliefs as her own.
Christian schools in many states in the US have found a way to collect taxpayer dollars. Through voucher programs, parents can divert their money away from public schools and instead funnel it into private schools.
This was originally created as a way to help students in lower income areas achieve the ability to go to a private school. This has never happened, and it never will. Voucher programs instead leave these kids is now grossly underfunded schools while rich tax payers make sure their kids have a well funded, exclusiveeducation. (yay capitalism!).
Alex Morris at Rolling Stone explains it like this:
Georgia, along with 11 other states (Arizona, Pennsylvania, Florida, Rhode Island, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, New Hampshire, Louisiana and, most recently, Alabama), has adopted laws – sometimes referred to as “neovouchers” – to grant dollar-for-dollar tax credits to people who donate money to provide children with scholarships to private schools. In theory, such a plan has the potential to help a lot of students, but in practice, especially in deeply religious places like Georgia, it has also meant that millions of dollars have been redirected from public funds to privately run Student Scholarship Organizations, which can then funnel the money to schools with strict anti-gay policies. Because the money goes straight to the SSO and never actually enters the public coffers, it’s free and clear of being considered a “public fund” – allowing church and state to technically be kept separate. All of which may sound fishy, but consider this: It’s fully legal because the laws make it so. And, as the school-choice movement gains ground, it’s certain that other states will soon pass similar legislation.
California has listened. To citizens and science. A bill signed into law this week by Governor Jerry Brown called the Early Access to Abortion Bill will allow some medical professionals such as nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician’s assistants to perform certain types of abortions.
This type of legislation keeps abortion safe and legal. Opponents, of the religious right kind argued that allowing non-medical doctors to perform these procedures was dangerous and would result in the loss of mother’s lives.
These lies are nothing new, the pro-life organizations know they are fighting a losing battle and that women’s rights are not something they can control based on personally held beliefs. The easiest way for them to control a women’s choice at this point is to use fear tactics. Tell women they will die if they get an abortion and they will be too afraid.
Dan Arel is a freelance writer, speaker and secular advocate residing in San Diego, CA. He writes on secular and humanist values on subjects such as secular parenting, church and state separation, education reform and secularism in public policy.
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