About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

A Christian Minister Explains Why Church and State Should Remain Separate

Christian minister Dr. Robert Wilkerson, who runs an organization called People for the Christian Way (which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually exist), published a short but terrific piece at Al.com about why prayer doesn’t belong in public school.

Here are just a couple of his reasons:

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Please Support the Work I Do Through This Site

I’ve posted this in the past. If you’ve already responded, there’s no need to do it again. Thanks!

Over the past couple of years, what began as a personal blog has turned into a hub with several contributors and multiple posts per day. As always, I’d like to continue expanding the reach of this site. That entails bringing on additional contributors with different voices, including more guest posts from people who can offer interesting and different perspectives, creating more YouTube videos, and making the podcasts sound more professional.

In order to facilitate all of this, I’ve created a page at Patreon.



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More Than $1,000,000 Given to Mostly-Religious Voucher Schools in North Carolina, Despite Legal Limbo

Last year, North Carolina lawmakers earmarked $10,000,000 for vouchers, offering up to $4,200 of taxpayer money per-student-who-qualified to private schools.

Because many of those schools have discriminatory admission standards (70% of the voucher-accepting schools are religious), take money away from public schools, and don’t abide by state educational standards, Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood put a stop to the program earlier this year. After some legal back-and-forth, though, he just gave a green light for the first million dollars to be distributed:

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Texas District Responds to Church/State Violations at Elementary School by Shutting Down Its Facebook Page

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the numerous church/state violations taking place at China Elementary in Texas’ Hardin-Jefferson Independent School District.

Just to offer some quick examples, the school’s Facebook page was full of mentions of the teacher-led “Hawks for Christ” group, not to mention pictures of teachers wearing club shirts — both of which are illegal:



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The Kapparot Problem

This Friday, as Yom Kippur begins, some orthodox Jewish people will practice a ritual called “Kapparot” (also spelled “Kaparot” or “Kaparos”) in which they’ll swing a live chicken around their heads three times in order to transfer their sins to it. Because that makes perfect sense. Afterwards, they’ll slaughter the chicken and supposedly donate it to the poor (though the chicken is often just disposed of).

I’m vegetarian, but what drew me to this issue wasn’t the slaughter (maybe I’m just immune to that by now)… it was that the swinging of the chickens around the head is arguably causing them pain. As this video suggests to those practicing the ritual, “You have been told that holding a chicken by its wings that way will make the bird calm and relaxed. This is not true! The bird is terrified…”

What makes this ritual particularly puzzling is that a chicken isn’t even required. You could easily just substitute a small bag of coins instead. So why not just do that? It makes no sense to me.

As it turns out, there’s a group working to end the use of chickens in this ritual, appropriately called the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos (which is part of a larger organization called United Poultry Concerns).

Karen Davis is the founder of the group and I asked her a number of questions about the ritual via email. Our edited exchange is below:

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