SCA’s Morning Read for 8/14/13

Coalition MembersMorning Read
Staying in a Georgia State Park? Starting Today, You Can Find Atheist Literature in the Cabins (Friendly Atheist)
Back in May, former American Atheists president Ed Buckner visited a state park in Georgia and found a Bible in his rented cabin. That wouldn’t be unusual in a privately-owned hotel… but a state park?! It’s not that the Bible was “offensive.” It’s just that, on principle, it shouldn’t have been there. It suggested government endorsement of Christianity.

National
Report argues for lifting ban on politics from the pulpit (Washington Post)
Even as polls show Americans broadly oppose electioneering from the pulpit, a new report by a group of faith leaders working closely with Capitol Hill argues for ending the decades-old ban on explicit clergy endorsements. The report being given Wednesday to Sen. Charles E. Grassley — the Iowa Republican whose office for years has been probing potential abuses by tax-exempt groups — comes as the ban has become a culture-war flashpoint.

Religion in foreign policy?: How to get it right (Washington Post)
Secretary of State John Kerry announced recently the creation of a new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, illustrating the U.S. government’s recognition that engagement with religious representatives, institutions, and organizations is crucial for fostering security, democracy, and development overseas. This is a major step forward for U.S. diplomacy, which has long been wary of working with the religious world, or unsure how to do it right.

States
(RI) Bishop says he’s now a registered Republican (News Observer)
The Roman Catholic bishop of Providence says he has become a registered Republican. Bishop Thomas Tobin spoke Tuesday night at a meeting of Rhode Island’s Young Republicans.

(NC) 13 Weeks, 1,000 Arrests, and the Moral Monday Movement Sweeping North Carolina(Nation of Change)
North Carolina was one of the first states in America to raise its voice against the immoral behavior of their state legislature. The Forward Together Movement began in May and with each passing week, North Carolinians have become fully aware of the Republican-controlled legislature’s actions in Raleigh. July 29th was the final scheduled Moral Monday, but Forward Together Movement leader Rev. Dr. William Barber says the fight is far from over.

(CA) Senator Presses Forward to Take Tax Exemption from Boy Scouts (Central Coast News)
A bill which would remove a state tax exemption from the Boy Scouts because it doesn’t allow gay leaders passed another legislative committee Tuesday. The bill would revoke the tax-exempt status of any youth group which discriminates based on gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation.

(TN) ACLU says magistrate can’t order ‘Messiah’ name change (Religion News Daily)
A Tennessee judge should not have barred a couple from naming their child “Messiah,” said the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. On Thursday (Aug. 8), the parents of the child appeared in Cocke County Chancery Court in Tennessee because they could not agree on a last name

Science & Medicine
Faith communities come up with alternative to health insurance (Jewish World Review)
Amanda Rooker doesn’t pay for health insurance. Instead, she pays a monthly share to cover other people’s health bills. It’s part of a medical bill sharing program called Medi-Share, which claims an exemption from federal health reform’s individual mandate.

GOP Congressman Challenges Barbara Boxer To Debate To Prove Climate Change ‘Is A Total Fraud’ (Huffington Post)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) told constituents over the weekend that climate change “is a total fraud” designed by liberals to create “global government.” Now Rohrabacher wants to have a public debate where he would presumably be expected to present facts that could help him prove this statement.

A Good Death: How Boomers Will Change the World a Final Time (Time)
Surely the world has heard enough of the Baby Boomers, who have dominated the political, cultural and economic landscape for six decades. But a generation that has refused to go quietly into any life stage will, it seems, be heard from one final time on the biggest issue of them all: how to die.

Prayer, spirituality getting greater emphasis in medical care (News Sentinel)
At 83, Carl Smith found himself facing quadruple-bypass surgery and the real possibility that he might not survive. Within hours on a spring morning, Dr. Mark Pool would temporarily bring Smith’s heart to a stop in an attempt to circumvent its blocked passages.

More Michigan parents refusing to vaccinate, worrying health officials (Holland Sentinel)
Public health officials and doctors who worry that not enough Michigan children are immunized against diseases must combat a trend not helpful to their cause: More parents are simply refusing to get their kids vaccinated. Michigan has the country’s fourth-highest rate of parents getting religious or philosophical waivers to vaccine requirements, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vermont ranks high on list of non-medical immunization exemptions (Vermont Business Magazine)
As students prepare to head back to school in a couple of weeks, some Vermont parents will have to decide whether to immunize their children. Data on vaccination coverage among children in kindergarten released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Vermont had the second-highest rate of non-medical exemptions in the country for the school year 2012-2013.

Limbaugh: If You Believe In God, You Can’t Believe in Climate Change (The Contributor)
“What about God’s creation called a fetus?” Rush Limbaugh asked on his radio show Monday. “See, in my humble opinion, folks, if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming. You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe that man controls something that he can’t create,” he continued.

Women’s Reproductive Health & Right to Choose
Kansas clinic under fire from anti-abortion activists (MSNBC)
Tuesday morning, abortion opponents went before the Wichita City Council seeking to shut down the South Wind Women’s Center, a clinic that provides abortions. Among their complaints: The clinic draws gun violence.

Virginia’s Right-Wing ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Caught On Tape Lying To Women (Think Progress)
An new undercover investigation into Virginia’s right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) exposes the blatant misinformation about women’s health, as well as the shame-based messages surrounding sexuality, that their employees typically impart to patients. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia — which has been working for years to expose the dozens of CPCs in the state — caught the lies on tape and released their findings on Wednesday.

Education
Why are almost all Wisconsin voucher schools religious? (The Cap Times)
If you’re looking for a taxpayer-financed private education for your kid, you may soon be in luck. Two Madison private schools have applied to participate in the new statewide voucher program. But if you want your kid to attend a school where he learns that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old, you may have to stick with public education for a few more years.

Atheism
Women of atheism: Nonbelief is not a boy’s club (All Voices)
How many atheists in the world are women? That’s a question that is nearly impossible to ask because the true number of atheists isn’t even known. What is known is that men appear to be the most vocal when it comes to freethinking activism, but that’s to be expected with just about any “activist” group — and not all atheists are activists at all.

Religion
Where the Pope Leads, We May Follow (Huffington Post)
At the moment I find myself the furthest removed from organized religion that I’ve ever been. Though I pray on my own now and again and even attend an occasional synagogue service, having recently discovered the egregious hypocrisy and absurdity of religious “leaders” in my own faith, I’ve moved further and further away from respecting much of the religious establishment.

Catholic Bishop to Pro-Life Groups: ‘Merely Anti-Abortion’ Not Enough (Huffington Post)
Catholic progressives are used to feeling the heat from some bishops who give the impression that abortion is the only life issue. It’s not every day that you hear a Catholic bishop directly challenge self-identified “pro-life” groups for their selective moralizing and crass tactics.

4 Lessons Science and Religion Both Taught Me (Huffington Post)
I remember once being in a philosophy class.  It was a winter “enrichment” course for 7th graders like me who didn’t have friends to hang out with during winter break.  It was our last day.  Everyone was telling the class what they gained out of it.

LGBT Rights & Discrimination
The Quiet Gay-Rights Revolution in America’s Churches (The Atlantic)
For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.

The Economics of Same-Sex Marriage in Ohio (Public News Service)
As efforts continue to have Ohio join other states in legalizing same-sex marriage, there’s more to consider than just the issue of equality, according to one analyst who suggests it would give the state’s economy a needed boost. From the flowers to the caterer, many services, vendors and suppliers are involved in planning a wedding, said Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics.

How Effective Are Laws Against Sexual-Orientation Discrimination? (Huffington Post)
Though Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act provides comprehensive nationwide protection from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender and religion, adding sexual orientation to that list remains a controversial topic across the United States. While 20 of the 50 U.S. states offer full legal protections and local ordinances offer some protections in 15 of the 30 states without state-wide protection, many legislators are shying away from extending legal protections further.

Wal-Mart-owned supermarket pulls insensitive “Tranny-sauraus” greeting card (GLAAD)
“This is hilarious!”, said the disgusting executives of Wal-Mart as they approved the sale of this insensitive greeting card featuring a “Tranny-sauraus.” The greeting card was on sale at the UK’s ASDA, which is owned by Walmart, for £1.50 (~$2.30).

Gay Muslim Imam To Perform Same-Sex Muslim Marriages (Illume)
The recent same-sex marriage ruling has cleared the way for many, including gay Muslims, to marry. But over the years, homosexuals who identify as Muslims found it difficult to have an Imam perform the ceremony. Now, they have a place to get married, complete with an Imam who will marry them. Imam Daayiee Abdullah of Washington, D.C., is available to perform gay Muslim marriages.

World
20 percent of Irish college students are atheist, only 37 percent are Catholic (Irish Central)
A student survey has uncovered some very interesting statistics regarding Irish students and their changing attitudes towards religion. The survey has revealed that the views of 78.7% students have been negatively affected with regard to how they perceive the Catholic Church after the recent scandals were uncovered.

Laying Bare the Facts About World of Gay Israel (Jewish Exponent)
Michael Lucas had a coming-out party on July 14. That afternoon saw the Philadelphia premiere of the gay porn icon’s first foray into mainstream film, Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land, which was screened as part of QFest, Philadelphia’s LGBT-themed film festival.

Pakistan’s LGBT community launches website in hostile environment (All Voices)
The country’s almost invisible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has launched a pioneering website in an hostile Internet environment. Pakistani government has blocked thousands of websites in recent months for objectionable and obscene material. In these testing times, it is a great initiative on part of the LGBT community to launch a virtual platform where they can share their ideas, thoughts and problems as well.

In politics and on the streets, French far right surges (Christian Science Monitor)
It was with a sinking dread in March 2012 that Imam Mohamed Khattabi, of the mosque Averroès Ibn Rochd of Montpellier, heard that a Muslim gunman had opened fire in Toulouse killing seven, including three children, at a Jewish day school. It was not just remorse for the senseless death in the city, 150 miles away in southern France.

Canada Will Favor Refugee Claims From LGBT Russians (The Advocate)
LGBT Russians hoping to escape persecution in their country can seek asylum in Canada, reports The Globe and Mail. Chris Alexander, Canada’s immigration minister, said Monday that LGBT people who wished to flee persecution in Russia would have their asylum claim favorably reviewed by the country’s refugee board.

FIFA asks 2018 World Cup host Russia to explain anti-gay laws (Baltimore Sun)
Likely sensing that uproar over Russia’s anti-gay law isn’t going away, FIFA says it has asked Russia for “clarification and more details” about the country’s law ahead of the 2018 World Cup being held there, the Associated Press reports. Smart move, given how the International Olympic Committee has yet to receive a definitive answer from Russian officials about how the law will be enforced at the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.

African Married Priests Want African Pope; Schismatic Clergy Creates New Church (Huffington Post)
Schismatic Roman Catholic priests, who left the church to claim their right to marry, are now asking for an “African pope” to lead them. The priests say they regret their former church is “allergic” to change. They believe priestly celibacy is neither rooted in the teachings of Jesus nor in the work of his apostles, who were married. And they insist celibacy does not work in an African context.

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