SCA’s Morning Read for 9/4/13

SCA in the New
SCA President Tries “Under God” Case in Mass. Supreme Court Today  (SCA)SCA's President David Niose after making oral arguments in "Under God" case in Mass. Supreme Court
The Secular Coalition for America today expressed support for the plaintiff in the case “Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District.” Secular Coalition for America President, David Niose, attorney for the plaintiff, today will present oral arguments before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the case.

Are atheists smarter and humbler? (Herb Silverman for Washington Post)
What should we make of a recent study that, like earlier ones, says atheists are more intelligent than religious believers? This latest is really a study of 63 individual studies, in which 53 showed less religiosity among the more intelligent participants. Hmmm. Most atheists, myself included, have a skeptical nature and want to delve deeper into such studies—even when they put us in a favorable light.

Science & Education
Young Students Against Bad Science (New York Times)
For his high school senior project, Zack Kopplin started a campaign to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, a 2008 law passed in his home state that opens a “back door” to teaching creationism in public schools, he says. Currently taking a year off from Rice University to work and travel, Mr. Kopplin, 20, is widely recognized as the state’s leading voice against science denial education. He has expanded his campaign to fight similar laws across the country, as well as the use of public vouchers to send students to religious schools. He argues regularly, if unsuccessfully, before the Louisiana Senate to strike down the law, and his April appearance on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” in which he faced off against a conservative economist, Stephen Moore, went viral.

Mystery of the Missing Women in Science (New York Times)
Yet when it came to which of the invitees ended up choosing Blair’s magnet option over other offerings in the area, the scales tilted male. In 2012, for example, 80 percent of the eligible boys said yes, but only 70 percent of the girls. In 2010, the figures had been 93 percent and 56 percent.

Discrimination & Equal Rights
Texas National Guard denies benefits for same-sex spouses (Washington Post)
The Texas National Guard has said it will not provide benefits for same-sex couples, despite a Pentagon directive requiring the military to treat all marriages equally.

Gay Servicemembers Turn To Proxy Weddings For Federal Benefits (Huffington Post)
As of Sept. 3, spouses of gay servicemembers are eligible to receive the federal benefits and privileges that married heterosexual spouses have always received: including access to health care, housing benefits, and family separation allowances. Same-sex couples just need to bring their marriage licenses to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and they’re good to go.

Same-sex weddings come to California prisons (SF Gate)
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano sent out a press release with the announcement that in response to his query, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation “has issued a memo spelling out policies and interpretations allowing same-sex marriages involving California prisoners.” Now same-sex weddings “must be permitted.”

Military
Didn’t Southern Baptists Just Resign as Military Chaplains? (Military Assoc. of Atheists and Freethinkers)
While Southern Baptists did not directly withdraw from chaplaincy, their recent policy letter essentially reads that their chaplains are now prohibited from performing many of their official military duties.

Movement & Related
Steven Pinker Accepts the 2013 Richard Dawkins Award (Friendly Atheist)
At the Atheist Alliance of America 2013 National Convention this past weekend, Dr. Steven Pinker received the annual Richard Dawkins Award.

Child Abuse/Faith Healing
Faith healing parents charged with manslaughter in daughter’s death (Religion News Blog)
Authorities in Albany, Oregon on Thursday arrested a couple on charges first-and second-degree manslaughter in the death of their 12-year-old daughter.

Religion
Pentecostals Stop Praying in Tongues (Associated Press)
As the religion becomes more widely accepted, Walters said, there has been a tendency for large Pentecostal churches to downplay the differences between Pentecostalism and other well-known Christian denominations.

America’s First Muslim Frat House (Real Clear Religion)
When someone mentions college fraternities, a group of devout, celibate young men is not the first image that springs to mind. Thanks to endless gross-out Hollywood comedies, people are bombarded by images of privileged men drinking away their degrees at parties with the ubiquitous red and blue Solo cups, but something different is happening. In February this year, America’s first Muslim Fraternity was established at the University of Texas; Ali Mahmoud is the President of Alpha Lambda Mu (or Alif Laam Meem) and its founder.

Methodists Still Fund National Council of Churches (Institute on Religion & Democracy)
Decades of steady U.S. membership decline are finally catching up with the United Methodist Church. Some parts of our bloated denominational bureaucracy are now being forced to make significant cuts.
But one area where denominational expenditures have remained relatively high is in funding the notoriously leftist National Council of Churches (NCC).

World
Indonesian Muslim clerics: Cancel Miss World pageant (RNS)
Indonesian Muslim clerics are asking the government to cancel this month’s Miss World pageant because Islam prohibits women from publicly “exposing their bodies in a contest.”

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