SCA’s Morning Read for 9/19/13

SCA in the NewsMorning Read
Atheists Organize: Emily’s List-Type PAC Launches to Support Nonbelievers, ‘Closeted’ Atheists (US News and World Report)
Edwina Rogers, executive director of the SCA, said “we have 31″ members of Congress now who privately admit their disbelief in religion. Each of the 30 non-public nonbelievers privately confided their nontheism – after being assured anonymity – to Woody Kaplan, chair of the SCA advisory board, Rogers said.

Texas Textbook Hearing Incites Debate Over Whether Students Should Learn Creationism (Huffington Post)
In what the Texas Freedom Network described as a “lopsided victory for science,” hundreds of teachers, parents, creationists and concerned citizens traveled to Austin, Texas, yesterday to testify before the State Board of Education on proposed biology textbooks for K-12 students.

Discrimination and Equal Rights
Same-Sex Partners Of Federal Employees To Get Equal Benefits Under Bipartisan Bill (Huffington Post)
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate is introducing legislation that would ensure that same-sex partners of federal employees — even those in domestic partnerships or civil unions — will receive the same benefits offered to heterosexual spouses.

New bipartisan bill protects groups that don’t support same-sex marriage (Washington Post)
A prominent tea party-backed Republican lawmaker is spearheading a bipartisan proposal that would protect religious institutions and other nonprofit groups that don’t recognize same-sex marriages from potential discrimination by the Internal Revenue Service.The bill drafted by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) is a “narrowly-tailored piece of legislation” that would protect groups “from discrimination by the federal government,” he said in an interview this week.

Atheism, Movement and Related
Atheists and humanists launch Freethought Equality Fund PAC (RNS)
Atheists and humanists hope to increase their influence in politics with the launch of the Freethought Equality Fund, a new political action committee for nonbelievers.

Obama Administration Invites Atheists to Interfaith Planning on Campus (SSA)
An unlikely party will be sitting at the table when the United States Department of Education hosts its interfaith initiative: atheists.  The Secular Student Alliance, a national nonprofit dedicated to organizing nonreligious students, announced today that they were invited to take part in a special planning session September 24th as part of the national gathering for the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.  The planning session, which also includes organizations like Hillel, Campus Compacts, and the Hindu Seva Charities, aims to determine the best ways for campus service projects to include all worldviews.

Here Are All The Atheists In Congress (Huffington Post)
It’s becoming more common not to believe in God or organized religion these days, so it would only be natural for a few atheists to have made their way to Congress, right?

Pakistani clerics suggest amendment to blasphemy laws (Global Post)
Pakistan’s top religious clerics Wednesday suggested amendments to the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, proposing the death penalty for people convicted of making false accusations.

Christian Leaders Included Among 200 People Kidnapped in Philippines by Muslim Gunman (Christian Post)
A church pastor and a Roman Catholic priest were among more than 200 civilians kidnapped and held hostage by dozens of Muslim rebels recently in the Philippines.

Religion and Culture
Brother Jed Smock Will Soon Star in His Own Reality TV Show (Friendly Atheist)
Brother Jed, of course, has a long history of provoking college students with his anti-gay, hellfire-and-brimstone rhetoric. Then again, he’s also been a fantastic recruiting tool for atheist groups nationwide.

Tennessee Church to Build ‘Ministry Mall’ as One-Stop Community Outreach Center (Christian Post)
The center which Stevens has deemed as a “ministry mall” will be a multipurpose, 35,000-square-foot building that will sit on 15 acres of land that will become the first of its kind in Tennessee once construction is complete.

Buddhism Loves the Crazies? (Real Clear Religion)
In the aftermath of the Washington Navy Yard shootings, gunman Aaron Alexis’s interest in Buddhism seemed at odds with conventional Western stereotypes of serene, nonviolent meditators.

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