Secular Coalition’s Morning Read for April 3, 2013

Politics & Policy
13 attorneys general push Obama on contraception mandate

Thirteen state attorneys general are urging the federal government to broaden religious exemptions for private businesses under the White House’s contraception mandate, claiming the policy violates religious freedoms.

My Take: What real persecution looks likeMorning Read
The right of conversion, as long as it is not forced, is an integral part of the fundamental human right to religious freedom. Yet, as we document in our new book, “Persecuted,” in many countries, in various parts of the world, and stemming from various motives, religious conversion draws horrific reprisals.

Movement & Related
Open Letter to the Secular Community
The leaders of major secular organizations have issued a united call civility in online discussions. Edwina Rogers, Executive Director for the Secular Coalition for America is a signatory to the letter. Find the full letter below.

Opinion: National Atheist Groups Respond to Growing Incivility in Online Communities
In response to the increasingly hostile (and yet incredibly important) online atheist community, where we’re seeing written attacks on anyone and everyone who ever disagrees with you about anything ever (“There’s something wrong on the Internet!” syndrome), nearly two dozen leaders of national non-theistic organizations have joined together to release an open statement addressing the problem.

The Scope of Skeptical Activism: A Personal Story   Part 2 of 2
Your own priorities may call you to many actions in many movements. Want to oppose religion, fight for church-state separation, or fix government? Those have never been goals for scientific skepticism, but they are the explicit unifying goals for other movements that would deeply appreciate your help. So help them! Be a skeptic-and be other things besides.”

(NC) Proposal would allow state religion in North Carolina
A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

(Kansas) Exceptions for rape in abortion restrictions mocked by Kansas Republicans
Republicans in Kansas have referred to rape exceptions as ‘Little Gotcha Amendments’ as they advance an omnibus abortion bill. The bill defines life as beginning at conception, and would be an amendment to the state constitution. Known as HB 2253, the measure has achieved one hurdle, being passed by the House. It has sufficient momentum pass easily in the Senate.

(Michigan) GOP Congressman wants abortion banned after three days from conception
Republican Representative Justin Amash, from Michigan, has stated that he would ban the use of any birth control that induces abortion, and an outright ban on abortions after three days from conception.

(Ohio) APNewsBreak: Ohio School Says Jesus Portrait Down
A Jesus portrait that has hung in a southern Ohio school district since 1947 was taken down Wednesday, because of concerns about the potential costs of a federal lawsuit against its display.

(Florida)Death Threats for ‘Stomp on Jesus’ Professor
The Florida professor who offended millions by allegedly making students “stomp” on a piece of paper with the word Jesus on it has broken his silence.

Photo Gallery: The most religious U.S. metropolitan areas
The most and least religious cities generally reflect the religiousness of the state in which they are located, although there are some interesting exceptions. Utah, for example, is one of the nation’s most religious states, and two Utah cities — Provo and Ogden — are indeed among the most religious cities in the nation. But Utah’s largest metro area, Salt Lake City, is significantly lower on the religiousness list (47% very religious) than the other two Utah cities. This most likely reflects Salt Lake City residents’ more urban, less Mormon nature compared with other Utah metro areas. And, although Michigan as a state has below-average religiousness, that state’s Holland-Grand Haven metro area is tied as the nation’s fifth most religious.

How Close Is Doomsday?
How close are we to the end? How close are we to being among the last humans to ever live? Depending on who you are — your religion, politics, relative degree of pessimism or optimism — that question is bound to bring up images of some particular kind of cataclysm. It could be an all-out nuclear exchange or a climate change-driven mass extinction. But what if there was a way of answering the doomsday question in the most generic way possible.

Religion in Pop Culture
‘The Bible’ finale ratings rival ‘The Walking Dead’
History’s The Bible miniseries finale delivered the show’s largest audience since its record-setting premiere. The network reports that 11.7 million viewers watched the two-hour conclusion on Easter Sunday, despite The Bible airing against heavy cable competition during its second hour — AMC’s The Walking Dead had its season finale and HBO’s Game of Thrones had its season premiere, with both geek titans setting ratings records.

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