Why Was a Pastor Invited to This Public School’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony?

About a month ago, Sale Creek Middle/High School in Tennessee held a memorial service, as many schools did, for the victims of 9/11. Nothing wrong with that at all.

The problem is that a local pastor, Alan Stewart, was invited to speak to the students during the event. His speech, as you would expect, was littered with God:

When tragedy struck, our nation was humbled to its knees. Through the brokenness, tears would flow and people began to pray. Prayer occurred in churches, in classrooms, in the marketplace, on the street corner, and in government offices. But, it was interesting to note, there was not a single protest over praying in all of America! In times past, God had always protected America in this war torn world, and our nation called upon God to do it again. As Dwight Eisenhower signed the law adding the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, he said, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.” Our leaders were reminded that our first line of defense was not found in alliances, not in weapons of war, but in God almighty Himself.

Naturally, the Freedom From Religion Foundation caught wind of this and wrote a letter to an attorney for the district:

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UK-Based Scout Association Offers Half-Hearted Alternative ‘Promise’ for Atheists

Back in June, we learned that the UK-based Scout Association would finally allow atheists to become members for the first time in over a century, perhaps due to pressure from their counterparts at Girlguiding UK, who had just changed the wording of their “Promise” to make it more secular and inclusive.

The Scout Association didn’t want to go that far. They said their Scout Promise wouldn’t change. It would still officially say “To do my duty to God and to the Queen,” but atheists would be given an acceptable alternative.

Yesterday, the SA announced that alternative Promise for the first time:
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FFRF to Prayer-Walking Police Department: ‘Get Off [Your] Knees and Get to Work’

Yesterday, I posted about how the Cincinnati Police Department was teaming up with 25 local religious congregations to walk and pray through the city in order to stop crime. Not only did the CPD support the Prayer Walks, they came up with the idea in the first place!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation took action quickly. FFRF Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter to Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell letting him know the government-sponsored Prayer Walks have to come to an end: [Read more...]

An Exclusive Excerpt from Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman’s Beyond the God Particle

It was 20 years ago when Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman coined the term “God Particle” to describe what has since been confirmed as the Higgs Boson, the subject at the center of today’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Lederman wrote at the time:

Why God particle?… the publisher wouldn’t let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing.”

Now that the Higgs Boson has been discovered, Lederman is back with a new book that continues where his previous one left off. Beyond the God Particle (Prometheus Books, 2013), written with Dr. Christopher Hill, talks about “the future of particle physics and the mysteries of the universe yet to be unraveled.”

Below is an exclusive excerpt from the book — keep reading for your chance to win a copy!

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After Wausau School District Limits Religious Music at Holiday Concerts, Community Members Freak Out

Last Thursday, Wausau School District officials (in Wisconsin) sat down with their music directors to explain that their holiday concerts would have to be secular in nature. The choirs could sing Christian songs, but they’d have to sing a few secular ones, too, to balance it all out. If they couldn’t find a way to do that, the December concerts would have to be canceled.

And then all hell broke loose because those terms were unacceptable to everyone:

[Wausau West High School's] elite Master Singers choir group will temporarily disband and Wausau elementary schools will no longer hold holiday concerts as the result of a Wausau School District directive to limit religious music in December.

“This group [Master Singers] sings at Christmas programs,” [director Phil] Buch said. “We sing for nursing homes, grade schools, businesses. To do that without Christmas music doesn’t make sense.”

A Facebook group called “Wausau School District Cancels Christmas,” popped up, too, with a picture of the Grinch right in the profile:

Even a petition began lamenting against a “decision [that] appears to be unreasonable censorship, anti-intellectual, and an unwarranted attack on people of faith.”

You can understand why they’re upset, of course. How do you have a holiday concert without Christmas carols? And if you’re part of an elite choir, can you really have a strong classical repertoire that doesn’t include a large selection of religious-themed music?

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