SCA’s Morning Read for 8/28/13

Secular Coalition for America in the NewsMorning Read
True Nonbeliever (Washingtonian Magazine)
Can Republican lobbyist Edwina Rogers help a group of left-leaning atheists reach across the aisle?”

A battle over prayer – and much more (Al Jazeera)
Backing the caucus is the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, a nonprofit organization, which has also set its sights on the states. PrayUSA, has helped form prayer caucuses in 12 state legislatures. Edwina Rogers said, “We see it as them demanding religious privileging” and wanting “to insert religious dogma into our secular law.” She said the SCA finds it unacceptable that a caucus based on one religion would have the sanction of Congress and the use of taxpayer-funded resources.

Religion and Politics
Newest ‘Values Voters’ adversary to America: The Emergent Church (RNS)
Christian conservatives who think Satan is using communism and Islam to bring down America can add a new “adversary” to the list: the Emergent Church movement. A portion of the upcoming Values Voter Summit in Washington will stray from its usual focus on politics and consider the Emergent Church as one of three “channels the adversary is using to bring America down.”

SCA State Chapters
(Ariz.) Advocate for the Homeless Voluntarily Living on the Streets of Phoenix (Phoenix New Times)
Blain, the executive director of a local political-advocacy group, the Secular Coalition for Arizona, has been voluntarily living on the streets of Phoenix for more than a week now. Blain plans on remaining homeless until she reaches a fundraising goal of $56,310, or $2 per person who experienced homelessness in Arizona last year, per Arizona Department of Economic Security statistics.

Atheism, Movement & Related
Atheists threatening lawsuit over planned 9/11 memorial (Capital Bay)
The American Atheists, based in New Jersey, told the mayor of Princeton this week that they will take the town to court if the side of a beam recovered from the World Trade Center site was displayed on public property or publicly funded.Edwina_Washingtonian

‘We’re Winning a Lot of Legal Victories’: Should Christians Fear This Atheist Group’s 130 Percent Membership Growth? (The Blaze)
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist non-profit, is expanding. The organization, known for suing over perceived violations of the separation of church and state, is planning major renovations that will quadruple the size of its Madison, Wis.-based offices.

Months After an Assassination Attempt, a Bangladeshi Atheist Blogger is Still Speaking Out (Friendly Atheist)
I was very near to death, having one of the injuries 6 cm deep, and another 4 cm deep. There are more than 53 stitches all over my body bearing witness to my horrifying experience of knife attack and stabbing pain. The doctors gave up all hopes for my life, however they could finally bring me back to life after a four hour long operation. I’m still not fully able to move my neck… Doctors told me that it was a clear attempt to murder and I was lucky to have survived despite the attack being severe and gruesome.

States
(N.Y.) NYPD Designates Mosques as Terrorism Organizations (Time)
The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorism organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

(Calif.)California Assembly Panel Passes Bill On Sex Abuse Lawsuits (Insurance Journal)
Some victims of childhood sexual abuse would have one more year to file civil lawsuits against private or nonprofit organizations that employed their alleged abusers under a bill that passed a key legislative committee Wednesday.

(Ill.)ACLU hires ex-GOP chief Pat Brady to lobby for same-sex marriage (Lake County News-Sun)
Starting in November, Brady plans to begin lobbying Republican state lawmakers on passing same-sex marriage on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has tapped Brady and his consulting firm, Next Generation Public Affairs, to help push the legislation through the Illinois House.

(N.M) Gay marriage legal in New Mexico, sort of
County clerks in New Mexico will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a state judge ruled Monday that the state’s marriage law, which uses gender-neutral terms to define domestic relationships, doesn’t specifically prohibit gay marriage.

Military
Atheists in foxholes are entitled to their own chaplains  (LA Times)
When an interfaith service was organized to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, “non-theist” groups complained that not a single speaker reflected their beliefs. Unable to convince the Supreme Court that Ten Commandment monuments on government property are always unconstitutional, atheists are donating their own memorials to stand alongside the Decalogue. And now there are calls for the U.S. military to appoint atheist chaplains.

Family Freedom & Development Prevention
Neb AG drops federal contraception ruling appeal (Associated Press)
Nebraska has abandoned its initial attempt to block part of the new federal health care law requiring church-affiliated employers to cover birth control for employees, but the attorney general’s office vowed to continue the fight.

Controversial Bill Would Allow Nurses To Perform Abortions (Huffington Post)
A bill that has passed the California legislature would allow non-physicians to perform abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Discrimination & Equal Protection
Cardinal George hopes gay marriage is blocked, says pope’s remarks were misinterpreted  (Chicago Sun Times)
Cardinal Francis George told me in an interview this week that he remains hopeful of blocking the legalization of same-sex marriage in Illinois and that we in the media misinterpreted Pope Francis’ recent remarks that were seen as more accepting of gays.

Michigan community approves non-discrimination ordinance (Detroit Free Press)
The ordinance bans discrimination based on several factors, including race, sex, age, religion, national origin, height, weight, marital status, familial status, citizenship, physical or mental ability, gender identity, sexual orientation or genetic information.

Climate Change
Mutually Insured Destruction (New York Times)
As more groups like the Geneva Association call for risk models that account for climate change, politicians are going to get a different message. Denying climate change isn’t just foolish — it’s bad for business.

Science
Study offers insight into the origin of the genetic code (Richard Dawkins Foundation)
An analysis of enzymes that load amino acids onto transfer RNAs—an operation at the heart of protein translation—offers new insights into the evolutionary origins of the modern genetic code, researchers report. Their findings appear in the journal PLOS ONE.

World
(Canada) Atheism a creed that needs the same religious protections of Christianity and Islam: Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (National Post)
Atheism is a creed deserving of the the same religious protections as Christianity, Islam, and other faiths, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has ruled in a new decision.

(Bangladesh) Minority repression has no ties to religion: Mozena
Violence against the religious minorities in Bangladesh is “seldom, if ever, about religion,” the US Ambassador Dan Mozena has said.

Religion
Yeshiva U President Regrets Sex Abuse Claims (Real Clear Religion)
Yeshiva University President Richard Joel said the school feels deep regret and shame at the findings of an investigation into allegation of sex abuse — but a lawyer for alleged victims dismissed the report as a “gross disappointment.”

What Makes Evangelicals Different? (Huffington Post)
Evangelicals were a stereotype: they were too political, too capitalistic, too apathetic about the long-term health of the earth and her inhabitants. They believed in Noah’s ark and talking serpents but not global warming.

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