SCA’s Morning Read for 4/24/13

The Morning Read will return next week. Hope to see you at the Secular Summit & Lobby Day, kicking off tonight!

Secular Coalition
Secular Coalition for MA in conjunction with Boston Atheists and the Harvard Humanist Community held a secular memorial for bombing victims in Boston. VIDEO. Morning Read

National/General Interest
Second Child Dies After Parents Use Prayer, No Medicine (Huffington Post)
A couple serving probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor could face new charges now that another son has died. 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.

Religious right architect dies at 72 (Salon)
The born-again Christian and co-founder of the Moral Majority was a major power player in conservative politics. Phillips had grown dissatisfied with the Republican Party (it wasn’t right-wing enough) and founded the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1992. USTP later morphed into the still-extant Constitution Party, whose goal is to implement Biblical law in America and to “limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries” and on whose presidential ticket Phillips ran. The party platform includes pushing states to “proscribe sexually offensive behaviors” including homosexuality; calling on U.S. troops to protect states against invasion by immigrants; opposing abortion in any circumstance; banning pornography; abolishing the IRS and the Department of Education; preventing the federal government from restricting the acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of liberty, law, and government; and returning all lands “held by the federal government without authorization of the Constitution” to the people. Phillips also attracted a following from the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. Texas Republican congressman Steve Stockman claimed on the virulently right-wing Free Republic website that Phillips’ work will live on through the “Constitutional government movement he helped build.”

Boy Scouts proposal displeases religious leaders on both sides (Religion News)
Conservative and liberal religious leaders may not agree on much, but both are expressing displeasure with the Boy Scouts’ proposal to accept gay members but reject gay leaders.

States
(Kansas) Anti-abortion bill notes have ‘JESUS + Mary’ message (Topeka Capital Journal)
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed sweeping anti-abortion legislation Friday, giving his state a new law to block tax breaks for abortion providers, ban sex-selection abortions and declare that life begins “at fertilization.” An Associated Press photograph taken before the signing shows a page of notes about the bill on Brownback’s desk that included a handwritten message at the top: “JESUS + Mary.” Further down the page were typewritten notes spelling out Brownback’s belief that the bill would create “a culture of life.”

(Nevada) Gay Senator Comes Out As State Approves Same-Sex Marriage (ABC)
While the country waits for rulings from the Supreme Court on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, states are rushing ahead to reform their own regulations on marriage. But the biggest news this week comes out of Nevada where Monday night the state Senate voted to repeal an amendment to the state Constitution banning gay marriage and replace it with one requiring Nevada to recognize the practice. For the first time Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, announced his very personal connection to the debate.

Movement & Related
Secular Woman launches “Aborth Theocracy: Terminate Religion-Based Legislation” (Facebook)
A project focused on the intersection of religious power over women’s bodily autonomy and sovereignty, dedicated to terminating that connection by opposing religious influence in government.

Can a religious believer be a serious journalist? Richard Dawkins and the unbearable smugness of tweeting (ABC- Australia)
This echo-chamber seems to have had a peculiar effect on Dawkins, however. His Twitter stream has become increasingly septic of late; it is almost as if, egged on by his acolytes, he has become a caricature of his own public persona. The chink in the amour of Dawkins’s rhetorical brilliance and aggression – as his critics have long pointed out – is his theological illiteracy, but he now seems to have fully embraced a brazen ignorance of anything beyond the basest (mis)understanding of religious belief, as though being thus ignorant was intellectually virtuous or the self-evident manifestation of a superior mind.

Religion & Immigration
U.S. Christians rally around home-schooling family facing deportation (Religion News Service)
When Uwe and Hannelore Romeike’s asylum case is argued Tuesday before a panel of federal judges, their lawyers won’t talk about poverty, war, or any of the reasons most immigrants cite in their bid to stay in the U.S.Instead, they’ll focus on a parent’s right to teach their children at home, which isn’t allowed in the Romeikes’ native Germany. There, home-schooling families face fines, jail time and even loss of custody if their children are not enrolled in a traditional school. U.S. Christians rally around home-schooling family facing deportation
The Romeikes’ lawyers will also talk about their right to teach the Bible during the school day – an angle that has spurred more than 100,000 U.S. conservatives to sign a petition to let the family stay in Tennessee, where they’ve made their home since 2008.

Catholic bishops: Don’t let Boston attacks derail immigration reform (Religion News)
Leading U.S. Catholic bishops on Monday (April 22) denounced efforts to use the Boston Marathon bombings to derail the push for immigration reform, saying it is wrong to brand all immigrants as dangerous and that a revamped system would in fact make Americans safer. On Monday, Dolan and the other bishops said that arguments against immigration based on the Boston attacks smacked of the anti-Catholic nativism of the 19th century that used violence by groups like the Molly Maguires to justify barring all Irish immigrants, and Catholics across the board.

Religion
Reform Jewry Grapples With Intermarriage Among Rabbinic Students (Forward)
The specific question involves admissions policies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement’s central rabbinical school. Admissions requirements have a symbolic importance beyond their actual impact on the students and their families, and it is for this reason that the debate is being followed closely by those interested in the development of American Judaism.

Pope drops bonuses for cardinals on Vatican bank’s board (Catholic Culture)
Pope Francis has canceled a special financial bonus paid to the cardinals who supervise the Vatican bank, the ANSA news service reports. Following an announcement last week that the Vatican would not pay the traditional bonus to employees at the start of a new pontificate, ANSA reports that the 5 cardinals on the board that oversees the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) will not receive the €25,000 (about $32,500) they had been paid each year on top of their regular salary.

Mark Burnett Prepping ‘The Bible’ for Theatrical Release (Hollywood Reporter)
The Bible debuted to 13.1 million viewers March 3 and wrapped up Easter Sunday with 11.7 million viewers. Internationally, The Bible beat hockey in Canada; it was tops in Spain, and it had a 37 share in Portugal. For Burnett, he was confident the mini would be a success, crediting God as a vital force.

International
Students Charged With Blasphemy for Having ‘Moves Like Jagger’ (Jakarta Globe)
Five high school students in Tolitoli, Central Sulawesi, who recorded themselves dancing to a Maroon 5 song and praying, have been expelled from school and face time in juvenile detention for “tainting religion” after the video surfaced on the Internet.

France became the 14th country to allow same-sex marriage (Reuters)
On Tuesday parliament approved a new law championed by President Francois Hollande, but it came at a political price amid violent street protests and a rise in homophobic attacks. The ruling body will now debate whether the law is constitutional. Hollande wants the bill to come into effect by May 25, with the first gay marriages anticipated in June.

Afghanistan Girls’ School Feared Poisoned By Gas (Reuters)
While instances of poisoning are sometimes later found to be false alarms, there have been numerous substantiated cases of mass poisonings of schoolgirls by elements of Afghanistan’s ultra-conservative society that are opposed to female education.

Opinion
Maher: Religion is ‘still champ’ among causes of violence and mayhem (Raw Story)
Friday night on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” host Bill Maher discussed the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and noted that while bad things happen in the world for all kinds of reasons, religion is still the main cause of mayhem and terrorism in the world.

Juan Cole tallies the deaths attributed to the different religions and finds Muslims’ death toll pales in comparison to Christians (Juan Cole)
As for political violence, people of Christian heritage in the twentieth century polished off tens of millions of people in the two world wars and colonial repression.

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