"Atheism tells you, by definition, what someone doesn't believe: They don't believe in the supernatural, they don't believe in God. Humanism is broader in that it does not only give the sense of what is unimportant to the person, but it also gives you a sense of what is important to the person. Humanists aren't only concerned with denying the existence of God, but want to take the next step in light of the fact that there are no gods or supernatural forces looking out for us: What do we do?"
"The school never pushed back, humoring all viewpoints equally. “In closed door meetings with us, they were very supportive and wanting to do the right thing,” Hannah recalled, but their public reactions to upset parents — or lack thereof — told a different story. Because no one on the board or in the administration said anything, “I think it gave these parents the idea that their discourse was important. Their dissent — their discriminatory language, in fact — was accepted. It gave them this leeway to go ahead and escalate the situation to rent the gym and invite the Minnesota Family Council.”
Parents would use the hate groups’ talking points at every open meeting and in their letters, but the school would never create any buffer against it. According to Dave, when these comments were shared, school officials would never call them out as discriminatory. “They would instead say, ‘Thank you’ or ‘I appreciate your opinion’ and go on to the next comment. And what that did was create a really hostile environment that just kept getting worse and worse and worse because the school refused to take a position.”
The school’s ambivalent approach was on grand display at a December Climate Committee meeting. A draft of guiding principles for an anti-bullying curriculum was distributed that suggested that even though Minnesota state law protected various classes (including gender identity), Nova should still find a way to placate both sides when there is a disagreement between those groups"
… the Standards do not condemn any or all religions and do not target religious believers for disfavored treatment. And COPE offers only threadbare assertions that the Standards intend to promote a non-religious worldview. Thus, COPE’s allegations regarding adoption amount to psychological consequences produced by observation of conduct with which it disagrees.
"This is not a new tactic. Indeed, it was used once before in a high-profile campaign against equality. Four decades ago, the Equal Rights Amendment — which would have required courts to treat laws that engage in sex discrimination with the same high level of skepticism applied to race discrimination — seemed all but certain to become part of the Constitution. Thirty-four of the thirty-eight states needed to ratify the amendment had agreed to do so. Then conservative activists organized hard against this amendment. Many of them also gave it a new name, the “Common Toilet” law.
Like the anti-LGBT activists who united against HERO, the ERA’s anti-feminist opponents offered similarly outlandish claims about what would happen if the ERA became law. Many conservative activists rallied behind a claim that a ban on official sex discrimination would necessarily forbid segregating bathrooms by gender. As the feminist scholar Jane Mansbridge wrote in her postmortem of the amendment fight, Why We Lost the ERA, “the unisex toilet issue fed the fervor of the anti-ERA forces by giving them something absolutely outrageous to focus on.” Among other things, “it could conjure up visions of rape by predatory males,” while igniting smoldering passions in a South that had recently experienced “the historical trauma of racial integration.”
Evidence that anyone has ever been sexually assaulted by a trans woman in a bathroom — or, for that matter, by a cis man pretending to be a trans woman in a bathroom — is extraordinarily thin. In Oregon, which has prohibited gender identity discrimination since 2007, the relevant agency “has encountered zero allegations of LGBT assault related to this public accommodation protection.” Lawmakers who oppose bans on anti-trans discrimination are flummoxed by requests for examples of such an assault. The likelihood that a woman will face this kind of assault appears to be exactly the same as her chances of being attacked by a unicorn."
"Asking the government to not promote Christianity — bringing it down to the same level as all other religious and non-religious beliefs — isn’t a form of persecution. We’ve had atheist soldiers and Jewish soldiers die in battle, too, but you’ll never hear Starnes or Collins suggest we put a Torah or Richard Dawkins book on the table."
"The anti-abortion movement has spent decades working to counter the accusation that it is anti-woman. Witness anti-abortion laws, like the one currently being considered by the Supreme Court, that put new restrictions on abortion providers in the name of protecting women’s health, as opposed to protecting fetal life. Advocates for banning abortion entirely have argued, extensively, that in the world they hope for, only abortion providers will be subject to criminal penalties.
But even under the status quo, where Roe v. Wade technically hasn’t been overturned, women are already being prosecuted and even convicted on suspicion of having abortions. Just ask Purvi Patel, who is appealing a 30-year prison sentence for her conviction for feticide in Indiana. Prosecutors said she had ordered abortion pills online and charged her with feticide, which had been initially touted as a way to prosecute people who attack pregnant women. The prosecutor in South Bend, Indiana who brought the case told MSNBC of prosecuting Patel under the feticide charge, “A more accurate title would be ‘unlawful termination of pregnancy.’” "
"Islamic extremism, like Christian fundamentalism, has a life of its own, and it’s evolving as we speak. The New Atheists’ contribution to this debate is to have taken fundamentalists of all stripes at their word and to have suggested that it is not only the particular interpretation of holy books that is problematic but the existence of holy books themselves: that fundamentalism cannot be detached from religion but is an outgrowth (or mutation) of it.
The argument may be an old one, but it’s worth repeating, and if their readers get a bit of knowledge on the way about recent developments in cell biology or genetics or the expanding fossil record or physics, well, then, so much the better….
There’s no doubt Dawkins can be a jerk. His interventions on the subject of Western feminists – whom he seems to want to indict on the grounds that they’re not living in Afghanistan – are, to put it delicately, feeble.
But my strong sense is that his real crime is to have confronted us – good women and men of the left – with a question we aren’t quite able to answer, and which, frankly, we’d rather wasn’t asked: What do we feel about religion now that it is more commonly associated with minorities subject to widespread prejudice?"
"The only way 355 mass shootings in 336 days becomes an acceptable reality is if we accept it.
And if we do, we can no longer blame Islamic State or Al Qaeda or the axis of evil for threatening the American way of life.
We will have destroyed it ourselves. "
"Father Lombardi, in his statement, played down the meeting and said it had been arranged by the Nunciature, the Vatican Embassy, in Washington.
“Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City,” Father Lombardi said.
He added: “Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.”"
"Why, exactly, is the Vatican being so weird about this meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis?
There are two possibilities. One is that somebody brought her to the Vatican embassy here in Washington and simply presented her to the pope without much internal discussion.
So basically, “Hello pope, here’s this lady who was a conscientious objector, isn’t that sad?” And the pope said “Oh, courage [to you], God bless you. Here’s a rosary!”"
"For decades now, evangelical Christians have opposed gay rights. They have painted gay people as dangerous, as child molesters, and as incapable of forming loving relationships. They have argued against efforts to protect gay children from bullying and have inflicted “conversion therapies” that include electric shock on gay teens and adults. They have opposed gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals’ right to marry and continue to lobby against local nondiscrimination ordinances.
And yet, in spite of all of this, comparing an evangelical baker asked to make a wedding cake for a gay couple with a Jewish baker asked to make a cake with a swastika on it puts the evangelical in the position of the party that has been hated, exiled, and killed for who they are. And indeed, this is exactly what evangelicals are trying to do. They want to paint themselves as the ones who are discriminated against, oppressed by the all-powerful gay lobby."
"The frontrunners continued that trend in the second debate – largely sticking to rants against Planned Parenthood and immigrants – until an unfortunate question from a viewer brought God back into the debate.
Chase Norton, who submitted his question via Facebook, said, “I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.”
Enter U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas."
"One of their options is no longer on the table. Today, the State Supreme Court basically told Pruitt: We weren’t kidding with our earlier decision. The monument is still unconstitutional."
"“Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”
That, right there, seems to be the heart of the problem. Moore and his lawyer are under the impression that the United States is a theocracy. It’s this assumption that leads them to believe public officials – judges, governors, county clerks, et al – are obligated to follow religious dictates, as defined by Moore and his lawyer’s interpretation of Scripture."
A fun one on common myths and misconceptions
"Since 2012, the BBS has embraced direct action, following the example of other like-minded groups. It raided Muslim-owned slaughter-houses claiming, incorrectly, that they were breaking the law. Members demonstrated outside a law college alleging, again incorrectly, that exam results were being distorted in favour of Muslims.
Now that a Tamil adversary has been defeated, Muslims seem to be these nationalists' main target, along with evangelical Christians whom they accuse of deceitfully and cunningly converting people away from Buddhism."
"In a press conference at the South Carolina Freedom Summit — hosted by Citizens United and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) — Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told reporters that Christians face persecution in the United States. But when a journalist pressed Blackburn for examples of Christian persecution on American soil, Blackburn could cite nary an example, the Huffington Post reports."
"The Supreme Court itself has suggested that the implications of Hobby Lobby were broader than Alito originally let on. Just days after the decision, the Court’s majority allowed Wheaton College, which is religiously oriented, to refuse to fill out a form asking for an exemption from the birth-control mandate—while retaining the exemption. There is another case, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, which is also pending, where a religious order asserts that the filling out of a form (which, if granted, would exempt them from the law’s requirements) violates their rights.
If just filling out a form can count as a “substantial burden,” it’s hard to imagine any obligation that would not."
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