SCA’s Morning Read for 5/16/13

Good Boy Scouts don’t need God: Column (USA Today)
Depending on what happens at the Boy Scouts’ national meeting this month, gay Scouts might soon be accepted into the venerable organization. Even then, there will remain a large and growing group of Americans still barred by the Boy Scouts. When will the Boy Scouts accept the non-religious?
Morning Read
Public Religion in a Post-Christian Age, Graduation Edition (Religion Dispatches)
But what kind of profundity is acceptable in our pluralistic public space? Can a public high school organize a graduation service that appeals to religious themes? Can a religiously diverse private college invite a commencement speaker representing only one of the many religious traditions represented in the room? Or, given religious diversity, should schools try to maintain an air of resolute non-religiosity?

ANALYSIS: Will the Kermit Gosnell verdict change the abortion debate? (RNS)
“Dr. Gosnell is only the front man; and the real trial has only just begun. The defendant is the abortion license in America,” Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor and leading conservative activist, wrote after a jury convicted Gosnell of three counts of first-degree murder for snipping the spines of babies after botched abortions.

Candida Moss debunks the ‘myth’ of Christian persecution (RNS)
Too many modern Christians invoke, to lamentable effect, an ancient history of persecution that didn’t exist, Moss argues in her newly published book, “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented A Story of Martyrdom.”

The God Placebo (Huffington Post)
While there is still no tangible proof of God’s existence, people of faith exhibit healthier behavior than their non-believing counterparts. So what’s a health-loving non-believer to do?

Franklin Graham calls IRS probe of ministry finances ‘un-American’ (RNS)
Evangelist Franklin Graham blasted the Internal Revenue Service probe of conservative nonprofit groups as “un-American,” saying both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the relief group Samaritan’s Purse were audited by the IRS.

IRS Didn’t Just Hunt the Tea Party: Liberal Churches Also Targets (Gawker)
Only 25% of the 300 scrutinized groups seeking non-profit status were reportedly affiliated with right-wing causes. Whether the rest aligned with left-leaning causes like abortion and climate change will not be known until the entire list is released. The IRS told Gawker today that the full list has yet to be made public. IRS examinations of politically vocal non-profits is not new—the most recent outrage to make the national news was in 2006, when tax officials threatened and persecuted liberal churches during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Movement & Related
Man might sue Georgia over Bibles at lodges (Columbus Dispatch)
A battle over Bibles is brewing in Georgia, where the governor said yesterday that the books should be allowed to be placed in the bedside-table drawers at state-owned vacation properties after an atheist’s objection led to their removal.

Center for Inquiry Joins More Than 70 Groups in Opposing Attempts to Restrict Abortion Access (CFI)
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) last week joined more than 70 organizations in writing members of Congress to oppose any attempts to add riders to the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations process that would restrict women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care, such as abortion.

(NC) Abortion Bill Gets Initial Approval (WITN)
A bill broadening restrictions on abortion through the federal health care law and so-called conscience protections has gained initial approval from the North Carolina House…It also allows any medical professional to refuse to participate in an abortion and allows any business to refuse to provide contraception coverage on religious or moral grounds. Current law only refers to doctors and nurses but would now extend to pharmacists and technicians.

(GA) Even More Awful Details About the Public School That Allowed Students to Skip Class to Pray (Friendly Atheist)
50 students and 12 faculty members prayed together  for more than six hours, causing them to miss their classes. It has been reported to FFRF that at least three adult inividuals with no school affiliation or authority entered the campus, went to the gym, and joined the students and staff in prayer.

(OK) Ten Commandments Plaques Pulled From School Walls In Muldrow, Oklahoma (Huffington Post)
Hoping to avoid a costly legal drama, a public high school in Muldrow, Okla., late last week pulled down all the Ten Commandments plaques that had been posted on classroom walls.

(KY) Concerns raised about religious meeting (San Fran Chronicle)
The head of Jefferson County Public Schools has sent out a reminder to staff about rules regarding religion in the curriculum after a meeting that sparked some concern.

(Canada) Canadians turning away from organized religion (Religion News Service)
Observers noted that among the survey’s most striking findings is that one in four Canadians, or 7.8 million people, reported they had no religious affiliation at all. That was up sharply from 16.5 percent from the 2001 census, and 12 percent in 1991.

(Indonesia) US State Department Points to Human Rights Problems in Indonesia  (Jakarta Globe)
The report said that minority religious groups such as Ahmadis, Shiites, other non-Sunni Muslims and Christians were occasionally victims of societal discrimination and violence.
It also pointed out that under the Blasphemy Law, “spreading religious hatred, heresy, and blasphemy” is punishable by up to five years in prison.

(Sudan) Sudanese centre says incidents of apostasy, atheism increasing in country (Sudan Tribune)
The chairman of the Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies, Ammar Saleh, said that cases of apostasy and atheism are on the rise in the country and accused authorities of negligence in addressing this issue.

(Africa) Tradition, religion holding back Africa’s progress  (Mmegi Online)
Tradition and forcefully imported religion has held the development of this continent back for close to three centuries now. The sad part of it is that this continued repression of progress is increasingly caused by indigenous Africans. Let’s wake up.

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