The Battle of the Eruv

WalledGarden

Hemant wrote about a story I also wanted to mention: the Freedom from Religion Foundation has written a letter of complaint to the city government of Miami Beach, Florida, demanding the dismantling of Orthodox Jewish eruvin on public property.An eruv is a Jewish ritual boundary made of string or wire, stretched between objects such as trees or light poles, to create a symbolic enclosure which is considered to be part of the "inside". With an eruv set up, observant Jews can carry objects like … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court Unleashes Chaos

The Supreme Court handed down its Hobby Lobby decision this week, and it was as bad as many of us had feared. In a 5-4 ruling (of course), five conservative male justices handed down the worst church-state decision in years, possibly even worse than the atrocious Hein decision: that a privately held corporation can impose limits on how workers use the health insurance they've earned as part of their compensation.For better or for worse, past cases about religious exemption have turned on the … [Read more...]

Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property

StatueOfLiberty2

This article was originally published on AlterNet.Although the United States is a democracy where the will of the majority is sovereign, our framers knew that being persecuted by a mob is no better than being persecuted by a tyrant. That's why they designed the Bill of Rights to be a counter-majoritarian document, limiting what laws can be passed and protecting the rights of minorities against the overreach of the majority. There's no better example than the First Amendment, which forbids … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court’s Ignorance on Secularism

GavelAndJustice

I'm coming late to the subject, but I wanted to circle back and talk about the Supreme Court's ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, where a 5-4 conservative majority held that official prayers before town meetings are constitutionally permissible.Make no mistake, this is a bad ruling, although not as bad as it could possibly have been. The one consolation is that the court didn't slam the door completely, as they could have done and have done in other cases; they didn't wipe out the right … [Read more...]

Should We Reach Out to Conservative Atheists?

Chessboard

Last month, American Atheists sought to rent a booth at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. Surprisingly, CPAC accepted their money at first, only to change their mind at the last minute.That entirely foreseeable outcome would have been more than sufficient as free publicity, but American Atheists president Dave Silverman decided to attend as an individual. While he was there, he gave several interviews asserting that atheism should have a bigger place among conservatives. … [Read more...]

Remembering the Holocaust, Respecting the Constitution

OhioHolocaustMemorial

In Ohio, the state legislature recently approved a plan to build a Holocaust memorial on the grounds of the statehouse, with public money to be contributed towards the cost of construction. The winning design incorporates two tall structures of stainless steel, engraved with the testimony of an Auschwitz survivor, that are shaped so as to create a prominent negative space in the shape of a Star of David. You can see an image of the design above, to get a sense of it for yourself.The Freedom … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Harassment of Church-State Plaintiffs

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property. In it, I report on the campaigns of harassment, persecution, and even criminal violence that are all too often waged against First Amendment advocates in religious areas of the country. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:As often happens in these cases, FFRF plaintiffs asked to have their identities concealed … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: April 14

Coffee

• My wife Elizabeth is raising funds for the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon, and has just one week left and less than $200 to raise to get to her goal of $1,000. Help out!• And if you need some motivation, anti-choicers are harassing and terrorizing the staff of the newly reopened family-planning clinic in Wichita once owned by the murdered Dr. George Tiller. One of them, David Leach from the group Army of God, calls the clinic's existence "a gauntlet thrown down by someone … [Read more...]

Followup on the Atheists of Bangladesh

BangladeshAtheistsLogo

In my post on Monday, I said I'd write an update if I found out about anything else that could be done to help the Bangladeshi bloggers imprisoned for their atheism. I have a few more suggestions for how to do that.The International Humanist and Ethical Union is promoting the #HumanistSolidarity hashtag on Twitter for people to show their support, and has a list of ideas for what to say if you contact Bangladesh's embassy in your country. The American Humanist Association is also suggesting … [Read more...]

Save the Atheists of Bangladesh

BangladeshAtheistsLogo

I've been getting more and more worried by the news coming out of Bangladesh, where there's a climate of steadily increasing hostility and hate against nonbelievers. Earlier this year, there were violent riots against "blasphemous" internet posts, and one explicitly atheist blogger was murdered outside his own home. But as bad as that was, in the last few days things have suddenly gotten much, much worse:Thousands of Islamist protesters marched the streets of Bangladesh's capital, calling … [Read more...]


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