SCA’s Morning Read 4.29.13

SCA in the News
Scott Lohman Interviews Edwina Rogers (Science Blogs)

Healing Must Be For Everyone, Including the Nonreligious Affected By Boston Marathon Bombings (Greg Epstein for Huffington Post)
So as soon as I heard there would indeed be an “official” one with the Governor in attendance (the President’s involvement was announced later) I contacted the Secular Coalition for America (SCA) about it, and together we worked from Tuesday through Thursday morning to secure some inclusion for the secular community.
Morning Read
Atheists postpone protests after Bangladeshi disaster (Washington Post)
The U.S. groups — led by American Atheists and the Secular Coalition for America — decided to continue with protests as originally planned, while the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the U.S. and Canadian branches of the Center for Inquiry, and the British Humanist Association decided to postpone.

OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP pulls ObamaCare bill (The Hill)
The Secular Coalition for America will hold a summit featuring remarks by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The event will also feature a panel on “Religious Liberty vs. Health and Safety.”

General Interest
Richard Dawkins Named Word’s #1 Top Thinker
(Prospect Magazine)
When Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, coined the term “meme” in The Selfish Gene 37 years ago, he can’t have anticipated its current popularity as a word to describe internet fads. But this is only one of the ways in which he thrives as an intellectual in the internet age.

Faith-Healing Parents Arrested for Death of Second Child (Discovery News)
A religious couple already on probation for choosing prayer over medicine in the death of their toddler son may be facing similar charges in the death of their newest child. According to an article on ABC News, “Herbert and Catherine Schaible belong to a fundamentalist Christian church that believes in faith healing. They lost their 8-month-old son, Brandon, last week after he suffered from diarrhea and breathing problems for at least a week, and stopped eating. Four years ago, another son died from bacterial pneumonia.”

Washington, Religion & Politics
The Secret Faith of Washington
(Daily Beast)
A godless city? Please. President Obama’s former religious adviser on the surprising number of believers in D.C.’s corridors of power.

Why Americans Love Creationism(Huffington Post)
All of the strategies developed by the anti-evolutionary leadership to rally support for their cause are on display. Significantly, however, the individuals in the conversation are not the leaders of the movement promoting their standard arguments, but ordinary conservative Christian leaders who have absorbed the anti-evolutionary message. Their confident claims and responses to challenges testify to the rhetorical power of this message. They are true believers.

Catholic leaders using Communion as a weapon in the culture wars (Washington Post)
While some are seeking to withhold Communion from pro-choice and pro-marriage-equality Catholics, I have heard no call to withhold Communion from priests and bishops who have engaged in horrific sexual abuse against vulnerable children, nor their enablers.

Science & Studies
Emotional Reactions of Atheists May Reveal Echoes of Belief
(Pacific Standard Magazine)
A recently published study from Finland finds that even atheists have a hard time asking God to harm their loved ones.

States
(PA) Brian Sims, Pennsylvania Democrat, On Abortion: We Did Not ‘Swear To Uphold The Bible’
(Huffington Post)
Republican-controlled legislatures in several states have passed or introduced bills that would prohibit state-run health insurance exchanges from covering abortion in any of their plans. But Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (D) attempted to halt such a bill in his state on Tuesday with a scathing speech about freedom and personal responsibility. As a reminder, Mr. Speaker, I do believe this has been forgotten entirely by many of my colleagues today: Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. We did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”

(RI) Rhode Island Moves Toward Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage (wpri.com)
The House will take a final, procedural vote on the bill Thursday. It’s necessary because the Senate made small changes to the legislation before passing it on an overwhelming vote last week. House Speaker Gordon Fox says he expects the final vote to go smoothly.Final vote on gay marriage bill Thursday. Governor expected to sign legislation this week

(DE) Delaware House approves bill legalizing same-sex marriage, measure now goes to Senate (Washington Post)
The state House on Tuesday narrowly approved a bill legalizing gay marriage in Delaware, barely a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. The measure cleared the House on a 23-to-18 vote and now goes to the Senate, where supporters and opponents expect another close vote.

(MS) Northwest Rankin High School Sued For Literally Forcing Students Into Religious Assembly  (Policy Mic)
Northwest Rankin High School (NWRHS) in Mississippi is coming under fire, as it was revealed this week that students were forced to attend school assemblies in which local church members spoke about Christian values and led the students in Christian prayers. The American Humanist Association (AHA) filed a lawsuit against the school on Wednesday, citing not only the polarizing content in the presentations but also the fact that non-Christian students were not allowed to opt out of the assemblies. This is a gross overstepping of the boundary between church and state, and the guilty parties must apologize for their actions.

(NH) Judge hears debate over education tax credits (Union Leader)
A courtroom full of lawyers debated the new Education Tax Credit law for three hours in Strafford County Superior Court on Friday.The top issue: whether the law is constitutional. Article 83 of New Hampshire’s constitution states “. no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”

Religion
Uniao Do Vegetal Church In New Mexico Opens Up To NPR
(Huffington Post)
The United States government allows members of the UDV church, which was founded in 1993, to drink ayahuasca, even though DMT is illegal in the U.S. (It’s classified in the same category as heroin and cocaine.) After a 1999 federal seizure of 30 gallons of ayahuasca from the home of the Seagrams Whiskey heir/national UDV Vice President Jeffrey Bronfman, a seven-year legal battle resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of the church. The Supreme Court said the UDV’s ayahuasca ceremonies were protected under a 1993 religious freedom law. A 2012 incident in which 18-year-old U.S. citizen Kyle Nolan died in Peru after going on a 10-day “ayahuasca retreat” raised concerns about the drug’s dangers. Although Peruvian police say the shaman who reportedly confessed to burying Nolan said the death was the result of an ayahuasca overdose, the cause of Nolan’s death is still unclear, according to the Press Democrat.

Catholics Try Their Hand At Old-Fashioned Evangelism (Huffington Post)
We’ve been tricked into thinking faith is a private matter,” Livengood told the audience. “That’s a lie. Faith is meant to be public, and there are many ways to share it.”

Opinion
Religion and Politics: A Combustible Concoction
(Huffington Post)
America is a country founded on freedom. That includes religious freedom — freedom of religion and freedom from religion. That means we all have the right to believe or not believe if we so choose. Why then is the line separating Church and State increasingly blurred? When I read of the proposed bill to create a state religion in North Carolina I was momentarily speechless. But only momentarily. The idea of declaring a state or national religion has been churning in my brain almost every day since.

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