After Atheist Student Blows the Whistle, Elmira Superintendent Reminds Staff That No One Has to Stand During Pledge

Well, that was fast.

Earlier this week, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the Elmira City School District in New York after an atheist student was threatened with punishment for not standing up during the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Superintendent Hillary Austin, to her credit, took action the moment she heard about the problem, sending a short statement to the media and emailing all district staffers to remind them of the law:

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No, *This* is Why Southern Baptist Churches Are Losing Millennials

Southern Baptists are in trouble, they say, because they’re not baptizing enough young people.

But don’t worry! They had a task force look into the problem and the members of the team settled on five explanations for the “baptism drought”:

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Dennis Markuze, Who Threatened Atheists Online for Years, Pleads Guilty for the Second Time

In 2011, the notorious death-threat-spewing, non-sensical-phrasing, email/Twitter spammer Dennis Markuze (a.k.a. David Mabus) was finally arrested. (Skeptic Tim Farley brilliantly documented all the drama.)

Markuze pled guilty to making the threats, spent months in drug/alcohol rehab, and received a suspended sentence of 18 months, during which he had to refrain from “participating in a social network, blog and discussion forum.”

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Court-Appointed Marriage Commissioner Refuses to Perform Civil Ceremony for Non-Religious Couple

Tamar Courtney and Morgan Strong have been together for six years and will be getting married this summer in Virginia. They wanted a friend to officiate the ceremony but after facing some difficulties in obtaining his license, they figured they would just go to the county courthouse and take care of the legal paperwork. The formal ceremony with family and friends would just have to come at a later date.

For weeks, they tried contacting the Roanoke County Courthouse for information… to no avail. So they went to neighboring Franklin County instead. A judge there referred them to two court-appointed individuals, either of whom could perform a civil ceremony.

They contacted the first officiant, Bud Roth, and he told them he couldn’t perform the ceremony on courthouse grounds (for unknown reasons) but he could do it at his church.

Even though Tamar’s an Agnostic and Morgan’s an atheist, they just wanted to get the legal part of the ceremony over with, so they accepted his offer. After working out the cost, location, date, and time, Roth asked Tamar about the couple’s religious denomination.

She told him the truth: they weren’t religious. And that’s when Roth backed away.

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There’s an Anti-Atheist Smear Campaign Going On Against a Candidate for Oak Hill (TN) Commissioner

With atheist candidates running for office in Texas and Arizona, I had no idea the first anti-atheist smear campaign would take place in Oak Hill, Tennessee.

That’s where Heidi Campbell (Pflaum) is running to become a city commissioner.

Campbell has been fighting against commercial development in the area because she says the tax revenue it would bring in wouldn’t balance out the amount in maintenance the city would have to pay for upkeep. And this is apparently a *very* controversial position.

Instead of criticizing her argument, though, anonymous opponents recently sent a mailer to residents in Oak Hill warning them that Campbell is (*gasp*) a Secular Humanist:

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