Mark Joseph Stern and the Conversation He Won’t Have About Circumcision

This is a guest post by Francelle Wax, the producer of American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda, a documentary about the problems with male circumcision.

[Note: Last week, Mark Joseph Stern wrote an article for Slate about how anti-circumcision activists ("Intactivists") are "drowning out reasoned discourse" in the debate. This piece is a rebuttal to that.]

I think that the best way to respond to Mark Joseph Stern’s address is to deal mostly with Mark Joseph Stern and barely at all with his address. Not because I think it generally good practice to go around making internet fights personal, but because I have little patience with someone who is pretending to have the objectivity of a cool academic when he actually harbors an intensely vested interest in arriving at a particular conclusion because the stakes are both so high and so intrinsically personal.

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Christian College Asks Transgender Theology Professor to Leave School

Azusa Pacific University, a Christian school in California, is trying to push a transgendered theology professor out of the school… but they’ll have to find an awkward Jesus-based way to do it now that there’s some media attention on the matter.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Religion News Service tells the professor’s story:

Heather Clements taught theology at the school for 15 years, but this past year, he has begun referring to himself as H. Adam Ackley.

Ackley, who is in his third year of a five-year contract, told RNS that he and APU have agreed to part ways as the university said it will continue to pay him through the academic year. But, he said, the university wants other professors to take over his classes. He also said that his insurance was denied when he sought hormone treatment and “top surgery” for his chest area.

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Taking You Inside the Humanist Mission Trip to Uganda

This is a guest post by Sean McGuire. Sean lives in Montreal with his wife and young son. He blogs under the pseudonym Godless Poutine at My Secret Atheist Blog, which is becoming less and less a secret every day.

[Hemant's note: The Pathfinders Project is a secular service trip sponsored by the Foundation Beyond Belief. I'm on the FBB board and I couldn't be prouder of our involvement in getting this project off the ground and really putting Humanism in action. You can help us do more things like this by becoming a member of FBB or donating specifically to this project.]

Last month, I wrote a guest post on this blog introducing the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. In it, I mentioned that members of the first ever Pathfinders Project, an initiative partly funded by the Foundation Beyond Belief, would be visiting the school in September and staying for several weeks to help out at the school.

Well, they safely arrived at the school on September 11, and I would like to share some of the updates I’ve been getting from both School Director Bwambale Robert and Pathfinder Conor Robinson.

On the afternoon of September 15, I got an email update from Conor about their long trip from Cambodia to Kasese and how they are helping out at the school.

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Give Pastor Perry Noble Your Money… or You’re Stupid

Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in South Carolina tells his congregation that they’re stupid if they don’t give him (*ahem* I mean, God) money:

I love the half-hearted applause at the 2:30 mark.

Incidentally, this is the same pastor who ran a seminar last month on the five ways to overcome your financial struggles.

Guess what solution #1 was?

Of course it is.

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Jessica Ahlquist’s High School Now Has a New (Secular) Mural

Nearly two years after Jessica Ahlquist fought — and won — a legal battle against her high school over a religious mural, Cranston High School West has finally found a suitable replacement.

Just as a reminder, this is the mural that was in the auditorium for nearly 50 years:

Our Heavenly Father.

Grant us each day the desire to do our best.
To grow mentally and morally as well as physically.
To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers.
To be honest with ourselves as well as with others.
Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.
Teach us the value of true friendship.
Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.

Amen.

Jessica sued the school (with the help of the ACLU) in April of 2011. This was a constitutional violation with its endorsement of religion and the debate over how to handle the mural divided the community. The school board eventually decided they would put up a fight, a decision that ultimately led to them owing the ACLU $173,000 in legal fees. The pushback and threats from other students also led to Jessica not returning back to Cranston for her senior year.

Yesterday, the Class of 1963 — the group that gifted the school with the original religious mural — gave the school a new one as part of a celebration of their 50-year reunion (as well as another matching banner with the “School Creed”). This one, thankfully, is secular and constitutional:

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