SCA’s Morning Read for 8/9/13

Prayer in Supreme Court
Obama administration backs prayer at local government meetings (Los Angeles Times)
In a potentially far-reaching case on separation of church and state, the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers tell the Supreme Court they support easing limits on prayers at meetings. Lawyers for the administration and two groups of lawmakers from the House and Senate, nearly all Republicans, separately made that argument in briefs to the Supreme Court this week. The high court should relax the constitutional limits on religious invocations at government meetings, they argued.

House members file Supreme Court brief in legislative prayer case (El Mensajero)Morning Read
Eighty-five members of the House have filed a friend-of-the-court brief at the U.S. Supreme Court on the side of the town of Greece, N.Y., in its bid to continue opening legislative meetings with a prayer. The brief was prepared by the Family Research Council.

Politics & Government
The U.S. Catholic Bishops, “Religious Freedom,” and the 2012 Presidential Election Campaign: A Reflection (Project Muse)

Mike Huckabee Goes All-in On Islamophobia, Calls Muslims “Animals” (Policy Mic)
Mike Huckabee recently compared Muslims on holy days to “uncorked animals.” The benighted former Arkansas governor made the comments on his radio show Wednesday, saying that Muslims emerging from mosques on Fridays, the day of prayer, “come out of there like uncorked animals, throwing rocks and burning cars”.

Pentagon May Revise Same-Sex Benefits (The Blaze)
The Pentagon is poised to extend health care, housing and other benefits to the same-sex spouses of military members by the end of August, but may reverse earlier plans to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married.

Family Freedom/Development Prevention
Hospitals can’t deny admitting privileges to abortion doctors, Wisconsin AG says (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Plans by three Catholic hospital systems in Wisconsin to deny admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions would “be in active violation of federal law,” Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen’s Department of Justice said in a court filing last week. Federal law “provides that hospitals accepting federal funds may not discriminate against a physician because that physician has participated in or refused to participate in abortions,” the state Justice Department said in its filing in federal court.

Theory on Pain Is Driving Rules for Abortions (NY Times)
It challenges four decades of constitutional doctrine and is based on disputed scientific theories. Yet a push to ban abortion at 20 weeks after conception, on the theory that the fetus can feel pain at that point, has emerged as a potent new tactic of the anti-abortion movement. Advocates saw the potential of such a measure because it taps into public concern about late-stage abortions, appears to alter the rules only incrementally, and claims to be rooted in science.

GAO to Audit Planned Parenthood, Abortion Providers That Receive Taxpayer Funding (Christian Post)
The Government Accountability Office has announced that it will investigate Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayers’ dollars amid recent cases against abortion providers that have fraudulently over-billed Medicaid, and other family planning programs.

(KY) Deniers rebuffed in Kentucky (National Center for Science Education)
The Kentucky Board of Education declined to make any changes to a proposed regulation that would enact the Next Generation Science Standards as Kentucky’s state science standards, despite the protests of evolution deniers and climate change deniers.

(WI) Abortion and gay rights: Wisconsin looks like a red state (The Cap Times)
Wisconsin is best described as a politically moderate state. But if you looked at its laws on abortion and LGBT rights, you might think the Badger State was on the buckle of the Bible Belt. In particular, recent anti-abortion legislation puts Wisconsin in league with states that Republicans firmly control.

(CA) Pastor Prosecuted for Reading Bible Out Loud in Public Goes to Trial  (Charisma News)
The case of two men arrested while reading the Bible—out loud and in public—went to trial on Monday, over a year after the events transpired. The men were arrested when they went to their local DMV in Hemet, Calif., and read from the Bible aloud as people stood in line for the DMV to open. When the first California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer arrived on the scene, he grabbed the Bible away from the man reading it and said he could not “preach to a captive audience.”

(PA) Faith healing parents lose bid to dismiss homicide charges (Religion News Blogs)
Herbert and Catherine Schaible, charged with third degree murder in the faith healing death of their 8-month old son, have lost their bid to have those charges dismissed.
Brandon Scott Schaible died in the family’s home April 18 from bacterial pneumonia and dehydration after the parents withheld medical care. They were still on probation in the 2009 death of their 2-year-old son, Kent.

Technology & Culture
Science Rap B.A.T.T.L.E.S. Bring Hip-Hop Into The Classroom (NPR)
Hip-hop education is still in its infancy, and it’s gotten some resistance; teachers are hesitant to set aside class time for experimental programs. But Emdin says if the current system isn’t working, you have to try something different.

How Steve Jobs Turned Technology — And Apple — Into Religion (Wired)
Jobs and Apple are interesting for far more than technological prowess — they provide an allegory for reading religion in the information age. They are further evidence that shifts in popular religion throughout history are accompanied by changes in the media environment: when the dominant modes of communication change, so do the frameworks for religious belief. Still, this shift would require a fitting mythology…

Serpent-handling pastors to star in reality show (USA Today)
A pair of serpent-handling Pentecostal preachers who were profiled in The Tennessean last year are getting their own reality television show.”Snake Salvation” is set to debut Sept. 10 on the National Geographic Channel.

(The original article the reality show mentioned above is based on) Snake-handling believers find joy in test of faith (Tennessean)
While older serpent handlers were wary of outsiders, these younger believers welcome visitors and use Facebook to promote their often misunderstood — and illegal — version of Christianity. They want to show the beauty and power of their extreme form of spirituality. And they hope eventually to reverse a state ban on handling snakes in church.

The Anti-Tebow? Controversial NFL Player to Speak at Major Atheist Activist Convention (The Blaze)
Chris Kluwe is known for his vocal — and controversial — nature. The Oakland Raiders punter regularly shares his views on gay marriage, noting that he’s a supporter of same-sex nuptials. He also endorsed Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential campaign. Now, Kluwe, an agnostic, is prepared to take what may be his most divisive step yet — he’s slated to speak at American Atheists’ 2014 annual convention.

Secular Movement
American Atheists, Inc., Challenges Filmmaker to Release Unedited Interviews  (CNN)
In the film, “Evolution vs. God,” the scientists are unable to offer any observable scientific evidence for Darwinian evolution. The tweet said, “Ray, we challenge you to post the unedited interviews of the scientists — We’ll help promote them if you do.” They’re not the only ones who want to see the raw footage, according to the producer.

Discrimination & Equal Rights
Students at Catholic High School Rally to Support Gay Teacher Fired After Same-Sex Wedding (Christian Post)
Students and some parents at an all-girls Catholic high school in Southern California rallied Thursday morning in support of a gay teacher who was fired after photos of his same-sex wedding were published in a local newspaper.

Iowa Pastor Accepts Apology From Gay City Official Who Told Him to ‘Rot in Hell’ for Opposing Homosexuality (Christian Post)
A Sioux City, Iowa, pastor who has been lobbying for the removal of a recently appointed gay activist member of that city’s Human Rights Commission, who told him he deserved to “burn in hell” with his family for opposing homosexuality, has accepted an apology from the commissioner, but he still wants him to go.

Most Mutations in the Human Genome are Recent and Probably Harmful (Discover)
Fast population growth has littered our genomes with five times as many rare gene variants as would be expected.

NSF cancels political-science grant cycle (Nature)
US political scientists are usually busy in early August, polishing proposals for grants from the US National Science Foundation (NSF). But not this year. Less than one month before an annual mid-August application deadline, the funding agency has scrapped new political-science funding for the rest of 2013.

The Trouble with Beekeeping in the Anthropocene (Time)
The beepocalypse is on the cover of TIME, but it looks like managed honeybees will still pull through. Wild bees—and wild species in general—won’t be so lucky in a human-dominated planet…The apocalyptic nature of CCD—some people really thought the disappearance of the bees indicated that the Rapture was nigh—grabbed the public’s attention. More recently, beekeepers have been seeing fewer cases of CCD proper, but honeybees keep dying and bees keep collapsing.

Pope Francis is unsettling – and dividing – the Catholic right (RNS)
But in a few short months, Pope Francis has upended that dynamic, alienating many on the Catholic right by refusing to play favorites and ignoring their preferred agenda items even as he stressed the kind of social justice issues that are near and dear to progressives.

12 More Students Join $380M Sex Abuse Suit Against Yeshiva University (Jewish Daily Forward)
Twelve more former students of Yeshiva University High School for Boys who claimed that they were molested by staff members have joined a $380 million lawsuit against the school.

Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics More Likely to Favor Longer Lives (Religion News)
Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics are the most likely religious groups to say “radical life extension” — living to age 120 or more — would be good for society, according to a new Pew Research Center study, “Living to 120 and Beyond,” released Tuesday (Aug. 6).

40 Turkish Writers Charged with Blasphemy, Face Prison (Bianet)
Prosecutors submitted an indictment to Anadolu 30th Peace Court, charging Sedat Kapanoglu and 40 account holders with the “blasphemy on the religious values of a society fraction” due to their entries on Eksisözlük, a popular social media website in Turkey. Site owner Kapanoglu and other users are facing prison sentences from 6 up to 12 months.

France’s Universities’ Heads Dismiss Ban on Wearing of Religious Symbols (French Tribune)
A report has been prepared by the France’s High Council for Integration (HCI). As per the same, it has been suggested that the ban that is active in school children should be extended to universities as well. But the proposal is expected to be opposed by high education institutions of the country. Jean-Loup Salzmann, Head of the Conference of University Presidents (CPU) in France, has already termed the idea to be negative and have dismissed the same.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox headed to the army (Washington Post)
The specter of ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys donning green Israel Defense Forces chinos and toting TAR-21 assault rifles is exactly what mainstream Israelis are demanding — and what leaders of “the Torah world” dread. The Israeli parliament is ready to make good on a campaign promise by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government to compel the Haredi, as the ultra-Orthodox are known, to “share the burden.” Under the new law, they must enlist in the army or perform some other kind of national service, or else they face criminal charges and jail time as draft dodgers.

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