New Legislation Will Allow Iowa’s Homeschooling Parents to Not Teach Their Children

This past week, the Iowa legislature passed House File 215, a bill that changes the way homeschooling is regulated. In short, it removes a good chunk of state oversight, leaving the education of homeschooled children completely in the hands of their parents — and Christian homeschooling families couldn’t be more thrilled (emphasis theirs):

HF 215 is truly a gift from God for homeschool families. [Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators] deserves a huge “THANK YOU” from the entire Iowa homeschool community for their awesome work spanning many years on [Independent Private Instruction].

So what are the big changes for homeschooling parents because of this bill?

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Even Though the Scenes Were Eventually Cut, Penn Jillette Tried to Get Atheist Donors on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice

After the All-Star Celebrity Apprentice finale aired last week, the conversation on this site was about how eventual winner Trace Adkins called runner-up Penn Jillette the “most ethical atheist I’ve ever met” and how that wasn’t really a compliment.

It turns out Penn tried really hard to get positive atheism on the air — multiple times — only to have his efforts squashed by the editing crew. It’s not that he’s mad or upset about that — most of what happens on any “reality” show gets cut and speaking about atheism positively might stir up a different kind of controversy than the kind the producers want to see — and Penn hasn’t spoken out about his behind-the-scenes efforts.

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One Christian Bigot’s Take on What Will Happen Now That the Boy Scouts of America Will Admit Gay Youth

In the wake of the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow gay members, we have basically seen reactions from three different groups of people:

1) You have the people (like me) who are disappointed that the BSA still bans gay scout leaders and atheists. The group took a nice baby step in the right direction, but they are still a bigoted organization as far as we’re concerned.

2) You have the people — relatively few of them, I would think — who are just proud that the BSA finally let in gay scouts. They’re less concerned about the other bans and are just celebrating what they consider a huge step forward.

3) You have the religious conservatives, who think the BSA has stained its reputation by caving in to the public outcry and gave up one of the best things it had going for it.

Regarding this last group… what exactly are they worried about?

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Reverend Calls Ricky Gervais the ‘Jerry Falwell of Atheism’ for Mocking #PrayForOklahoma

I appeared on a HuffPost Live segment yesterday in which Ron Lindsay and I (and two Christians) spoke about the #PrayForOklahoma hashtag.

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Goodbye to the Namesake of the ‘Lemon Test’

Anyone who has a cursory understanding of America’s laws regarding church/state separation should be familiar with certain landmark Supreme Court cases. Cases like Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp and Lemon v. Kurtzman.

That last one in particular is important not necessarily for its immediate ruling (does anyone even remember what the case was about?) but for the legacy it left behind: The Lemon Test.

The Lemon Test said that there were three rules that legislators had to follow when it came to laws concerning religion:

  1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;
  2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
  3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

Break any of these rules and the whole law becomes unconstitutional. It’s a precedence that has been used for decades and its namesake was Alton Toussaint Lemon:

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