SCA’s Morning Read for 10/1/13

SCA in the NewsMorning Read
Atheist organization believes in Buono (Asbury Park Press)
Endorsements haven’t been easy to come by for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono. But she received one last week that could be a mixed blessing, as it were, from the Secular Coalition for America, a national advocacy group for atheists.

Coalition Members
For many US Jews, religion not tied to belief (The Worcester Telegram)
A new survey of U.S. Jews has confirmed some of the community’s worst fears: One in five American Jews say they have no religion, and their ranks appear to be growing. Jews in this category feel pride in being Jewish and a strong sense of belonging to the greater Jewish community. But they say their connection is based mostly on culture and ancestry, not necessarily on belief in God or observance of religious law.

American Atheists president calls for more vocal non-theist representation (The Daily Texan)
American Atheists president David Silverman encouraged students to criticize religious beliefs, not those who hold them at a talk Monday. Speaking in Hogg Memorial Auditorium, Silverman argued that non-theists should focus on being honest and forgo political correctness when discussing religious beliefs.

Movement Related News
The Rise of the Nontheist Voting Bloc (Patheos)
Last week a new Political Action Committee was announced that will support nonreligious candidates and religious candidates that support equality for atheists and agnostics. According to its coordinator Bishop McNeill, a flood of support is coming in with scores of PAC contributors in its first two days of operation—enough to bump the group into the FEC recognized multi-candidate PAC status.

Sunday Assembly: A Godless Service Coming to a ‘Church’ Near You (ABC News)
Sanderson Jones, who grew up in a religious British family, described the death of his mother when he was only 10 and his subsequent loss of faith as a “cataclysmic catastrophic event.” He loved the rituals of the Christian church in which he was raised, but could not get his head around why God would allow cancer to take his mother — a Sunday school teacher with five children — at the age of 42.

‘Millions of Americans Are Living Happily Without Religion,’ Declares New Atheist Ad Campaign (Friendly Atheist)
As we know all too well, billboards that even suggest that people don’t believe in God can be offensive to some. Billboards suggesting that people who don’t believe in God are happy might even be worse.

The Trouble with Those Atheists (LA Progressive)
Under Benjamin Jealous’ leadership, the NAACP set out to demonstrate its political relevance, ramping up campaigns around mass incarceration, the death penalty, voter suppression and marriage equality. Predictably, these initiatives often drew on its strong ties to the African American faith community.

GOP adds ‘conscience clause’ to spending bill (CNN)
House Republicans have added a measure aimed at limiting contraceptive coverage to the spending bill coming up for a vote Saturday night, a spokesman for Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told CNN.


Town of Greece v. Galloway: What is the Supreme Court up to? (SCOTUS Blog)
The Court’s decision to revisit legislative prayer on the thirtieth anniversary of Marsh v. Chambers, upholding the state of Nebraska’s legislative chaplaincy based on its perceived ratification by longstanding history and tradition, raises numerous questions about the direction its Establishment Clause jurisprudence might take. But perhaps one of the most difficult questions is “why?” Why did the Supreme Court take this case?

Science and Medicine
7 Stupid Things People Say About Climate Change That Aren’t At All True (Buzzfeed)
The IPCC says warming is “unequivocal.” No matter what anyone else says, climate change is definitely happening.

How Our Stone Age Bodies Struggle To Stay Healthy In Modern Times (NPR)
If you got sick, you probably wouldn’t go to an evolutionary biologist to get treated. But Daniel Lieberman, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, says that his field can help you understand why you got sick, and make you more aware of healthy and harmful behaviors.

LBGT Rights and Discrimination
Bertolli Makes the Most of Barilla Chairman’s Anti-Gay Comments (Ad Week)
Barilla is struggling enough this week without its competitors piling on. But Bertolli doesn’t care. Seizing on comments made by Barilla’s chairman about how the company would never put gay couples in its advertising, Bertolli Germany quickly posted pro-gay imagery in its social feeds, happily taking advantage of its rival’s misstep.

Kansas school board brings back student-led prayer (BizPac)
A rural Kansas School Board courageously defied 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court rulings by allowing student-led prayer at all school activities, even broadcasting them on the school’s public address system.

House speaker says coaches should be able to pray with players (Tampa Bay Times)
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford says public high school football coaches should be allowed to pray with their teams. If state law doesn’t allow it, he added, the law should change.

Women’s Rights and Health
Businesses Refusing to Cover Contraception Because…Citizens United?! (Mother Jones)
Frank and Philip Gilardi live in Ohio and own produce packing and delivery companies that employ about 400 people. The brothers are also devout Catholics, who donate food to religious charities, provide a trailer for the local parish picnic every year, put pro-life bumper stickers on all company trucks—and don’t want their companies’ insurance plans to cover contraception, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires.

Blasphemy Laws Belong in the Dark Ages (Psychology Today)
One of the defining features of a free, liberal, and secular society is the fact that individuals have the unalienable right to criticize every imaginable scientific theory, belief system, political ideology, religious narrative, political figure, etc. without fear of persecution (or prosecution). No one has the birthright to be protected from being offended.

Pope Francis to Meet With Cardinals, Discuss Reform (Voice of America)
Since becoming the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has made it clear that his papacy will be different from the previous ones.  From touching the faithful while riding in an open vehicle, to emphasizing humility and service rather than dogma, the new pope has signaled that significant changes lie ahead for the Church.

Can Catholic Church Thrive Without ‘Obsession’ on Gays and Abortion? (Jewish Daily Forward)
Like every other gay person I know, I rejoiced at the recent statement by Pope Francis I that, in his view, the Catholic Church has been overly “obsessed” with homosexuality, abortion and birth control. For one thing, I hope that the pope’s statement ends the massive crusade on the part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Becket Fund and the Knights of Columbus to deny civil rights to LGBT people in the United States.

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