Announcing the Friendly Atheist Book Club

After months of planning, it’s my pleasure to announce a new project that I hope the secular community will enjoy and appreciate: The Friendly Atheist Book Club!

Every month beginning this November — on a site separate from this one — we’ll discuss one book over a series of blog posts and videos. The moderators (Steven M. Long and Emily Dietle) and I will guide the conversation and we’ll invite the authors of the books to join us for an interview each month, too.

For those of you who (like me) enjoy reading books about religion but don’t always have people to chat with about them, I want this to be your outlet.

I know you have a lot of questions (about moderators, trolls, book selection, cost, etc) and I’ve tried to answer the major ones here.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to announce that the first book we’ll read is Candace R. M. Gorham‘s book The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking out on Religion — and Others Should Too (Pitchstone Publishing, 2013). It’s all about how black women, specifically, are harmed by Christianity and why they need to abandon their faith.

Like I said, this has been in the works for a few months. It’s an experiment, but one I’m devoting a lot of personal attention to, because I think it will be a valuable resource for our community. If you’d like to become a member of the club, please sign up now and order the book right here. The fun begins next month!

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American Legion Group Demands Prayer at Public School’s Veterans Day Ceremony, but School Officials Say No

This past June, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Wallenpaupack Area Schools (in Pennsylvania) Superintendent Michael Silsby letting him know that if a clergy member ever again led a prayer at the district high school’s graduation ceremony, they would be hit with a lawsuit. Silsby wrote back in August: “The District will no longer have religious rituals as part of the commencement ceremony.”

Excellent. Problem solved.

So you can imagine how Silsby reacted when he learned what American Legion Post 311 wanted to do during Wallenpaupack Area High School’s Veterans Day ceremony next month. Normally, the event includes announcing the winners of an essay contest, singing patriotic songs, and listening to a guest speaker. But this year, the Legion made an additional, ungrantable request: Let our chaplain say a prayer at the assembly.

Silsby, not wanting to go through the same legal battle again, told them prayer wasn’t an option. It was a public school ceremony. There would be no mixing of church and state.

The veterans didn’t take the news so well. They’re now saying if the school won’t allow their chaplain to say a prayer at the event, they just won’t show up:



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Why Did This Christian Group Fire a Divorced Woman but Not Fire Divorced Men?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses how InterVarsity Christian Fellowship recently fired a woman after she got divorced… even though they didn’t fire men who did the exact same thing:

You can read more details about the story here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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Atheist Churches for All? The Sunday Assembly Wants to Create a Global Platform

The Sunday Assembly (a.k.a. The Atheist Church) is getting ready for the next phase of its growth: Making it easier for people to begin their own assemblies.

To that end, they’re launching a major fundraising campaign to create a professional website that can make that whole process all the more seamless:

Their goal is £500,000 — more than $800,000 — though this is an Indiegogo campaign, not a Kickstarter (meaning they’ll keep whatever they earn, regardless of whether or not they reach the goal).



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The Genesis of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: A Movie

Zach Shukan wants to make a quality animated version of the Flying Spaghetti Monster creation story — one that would rival those Genesis movies Christians often make — and he’s asking for help on Kickstarter:



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