SCA’s Morning Read for 12.18.13

Religion and PoliticsMorning Read
That Time The House Of Representatives Actually Had A Vote About The ‘War On Christmas’ (Huff Post)
In 2005 the House of Representatives struck a mighty blow against those insidious secular busybodies when lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to affirm the right of Americans to enjoy the trappings of Christmas.

Frank Wolf, GOP Congressman, Won’t Seek Reelection In 2014  (Huff Post)
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) won’t seek reelection in 2014, the congressman announced Tuesday. Wolf, who has represented Virginia’s 10th District for 17 terms, said in a statement that he would retire to focus on humanitarian work. “As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves,” Wolf said. “I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom – both domestic and international – as well as matters of the culture and the American family.”

NY State Senator Says Times Square Atheist Billboard is Religious Persecution Like the Kind That Led to the Holocaust (Friendly Atheist)
New York State Senator Andrew Lanza is outraged by American Atheists’ billboard in Times Square.

Satanists take to Indiegogo to build giant monument to Satan on government property (Geek)
Last year, the Oklahoman government signed off on the construction of a large religious monument depicting the Ten Commandments that was to be placed on the grounds of the state’s capitol building.  The Satanists aren’t fighting your secular battle by opposing the construction of the monument, but are fighting fire with fire — and we all know that Hell is more rife with fire than a single burning bush. Instead, they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to construct a monument to Satan on those very same grounds of the capitol. After all, Judaism and Christianity aren’t the only religions, and if the statues are being built in the name of religious freedom, other religious have the right to be equally free.

Atheist PAC makes endorsements for Congress (The Leaf Chronicle)
A political action committee that bills itself as a “non-theist” PAC announced its first slate of endorsements Tuesday, backing four House candidates and two state lawmakers. The Freethought Equality Fund said it supports politicians committed to promoting a secular government and protecting the rights of non-believers.

Health
State Vaccine Exemptions’ Significant Impact on Vaccine Rates (RWJF)
A new study published recently in the American Journal of Public Health finds that non-medical exemption laws for vaccines required for school or daycare admission have significantly impacted the vaccination rates of at least one disease. The researchers reviewed relevant laws and regulations for each year between 2001 and 2008 and rated them on their restrictiveness in granting exemptions. The study was funded by a grant from the Public Health Law Research program, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Education
Breaking News: Texas Review Panel Rejects Creationist Objections to Pearson Biology Textbook (TFN Insider)
This year’s sweeping win for science education in Texas now appears to be complete. Multiple sources tell us that a special expert panel has given unanimous approval to the Pearson biology textbook whose adoption by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) last month had been tripped up by allegations that it contained “factual errors.”

Climate Change
‘Whole world’ at risk from simultaneous droughts, famines, epidemics: scientists (The Guardian)
Research published by US National Academy of Sciences warns climate change impacts could be worse than thought.

Religion
Christmas in America: Belief in the Virgin birth and visits from Santa (RNS)
The survey finds that 73 percent of adults believe Jesus was born of a virgin — the act of God at the theological heart of the Christmas story, the birth of the Christ child. That belief is held overwhelmingly by Christians of all stripes and even by some people with no formal religion: 32 percent of “nones” say they, too, believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus.

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