Secular Coalition’s Morning Read for 8/27/13

Secular Coalition News
Q&A with Freethinking Author Laurie Endicott Thomas (SCA)
The Secular Coalition hosted a Q&A with freethinking author, Laurie Endicott Thomas, whose new book “Not Trivial: How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free” will be released in August. Thomas says liberal arts are the subjects that ancient Romans considered appropriate for free people, as opposed to slaves. The ancient liberal arts curriculum began with the trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. So, she says, these subjects are “not trivial.”

Do Christian conservatives believe in the First Amendment? (Herb Silverman for Washington Post)
Most Americans, religious or not, agree on the importance of religious freedom as enshrined in the First Amendment, though they disagree about specifics. Should the government promote religion? Give special tax breaks to religion? Favor one religion over another? Favor religion over non-religion? My answers are no, no, no, and no, and also no to the claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

In Freedom We Trust : An Atheist Guide to Religious Liberty (SCA)
Looking for a good book to close out your summer reading list? The Secular Coalition recommends the recently released book by Edward M. Buckner and Michael E. Buckner, “In Freedom We Trust: An Atheist Guide to Religious Liberty”.

Church-State News: Prominent organizations partner to support legislation based on reason, science and evidence (God Discussion)
The Secular Coalition for America has formed a strategic partnership with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science U.S.  through the remainder of 2013.

Religion & Politics Intersect
Black faith leaders urge Congress to toughen gun laws (Washington Post)
A coalition of African American faith leaders is invoking the words of Martin Luther King Jr. as it tries to revive the debate over the nation’s gun laws and calls on Congress to toughen background checks for firearms purchases.

Anti-Gay Smear Campaign Targets Gabby Giffords’ Hero Intern (Huffington Post)
One of the heroes to emerge from the 2011 mass shooting near Tucson, Ariz., targeting then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), was intern Daniel Hernandez Jr., who helped save his congresswoman’s life. Later that year, he continued his public service when he was elected to the school board for the Sunnyside Unified School District, which covers southern Tucson and adjacent areas in Pima County. Now, however, Hernandez is facing not only a recall campaign, but an anonymous anti-gay smear campaign as well.

Education
Jindal: Education Next Civil Rights Battle (Breitbart.com)
On Meet The Press on August 25, 2013, Governor Jindal blasted the U.S. Department of Justice for filing a petition challenging equal opportunity for education and school choice in Louisiana.

But what is Jindal’s idea of a great education? Check out this article that appeared last year in Mother Jones “14 Wacky ‘Facts’ Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools

Women’s Equality Day and Freethought
N.Y. Freethought Trail traces nonbelievers who chartered a historic course (Religion News Service)
But most visitors will hear little of the role that freethought — the philosophical view that challenges  both religious and secular  orthodoxies — played in extending women the right to vote in 1920.

Atheism, Movement & Related
American Athiests President David Silverman denied a vanity “ATHEIST” license plate by the state of New Jersey, the reason they gave was that it is offensive. Silverman sent an appeal today.

We Need Churches For Atheists  (Huffington Post)
Human beings and our great ape cousins are inherently social animals. Remove us from the group and our physical and mental health deteriorates.

Open Atheists Already Collect Tax-Free Clergy Housing Allowances (Forbes)
I recently wrote about the court fight over the “parsonage exclusion” which pits the Freedom From Religion Foundation against the United States.  It has taken a strange turn.  FFRF, in order to get standing, started paying its atheist officers housing allowance.  They have not excluded the allowances, since, in their minds, there is no way they are ministers.   The Government is arguing that maybe they do qualify as ministers. This development caught the interest of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Creation Museum’s Ken Ham Responds to Atheist Gibes About Worker Hurt by Lightning (Christian Post)
Ken Ham, the founder and president of the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis ministry, responded to gibes on secular blogs by people making fun of the fact that a worker at the zip lines attraction was injured by lightning last week.

Discrimination & Equal Rights
N.J. gay conversion therapy ban challenged in federal court (RNS)
New Jersey’s newly enacted ban on gay-to-straight conversion therapy for minors violates a licensed therapist’s obligation to “respect the rights of clients to make decisions,” according to a federal lawsuit filed by a Christian counselors group and professionals who use the practice.Morning Read

Manning’s Lawyer Gives Details Of Gender Change (Huffington Post)
Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who was previously known as Bradley Manning, decided to announce that she wanted to live as a woman the day after sentencing because a military prison said publicly it would not provide hormone treatment, her attorney said Monday.

Religion
Judge Dismisses Suit by Episcopal Church Against Breakaway SC Diocese Over Bishop Trademark (Christian Post)
A U.S. District Judge in South Carolina has dismissed a trademark lawsuit leveled against a diocese that broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences.

Kippah in Crosshairs as Quebec Mulls Ban (Forward)
You may have heard that if Quebec’s government has its way, we’ll be seeing far fewer yarmulkes on the province’s streets. We certainly would be seeing none of them on the heads of people working or receiving services at government offices, and public schools, daycare centers and hospitals.

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