Irish School Finally Agrees to Let Student Opt Out of Religious Education Class

It won’t surprise you that religion is baked right into schools in Ireland — religious education is a mandatory subject and there’s a special emphasis on Christianity:

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment says Religious Education for the Junior Certificate allows pupils to “explore how many religions, particularly Christian religions, have shaped the Ireland you live in today” and that at least one of the major world religions will be studied in detail as well as “how different communities of faith organise themselves”.

I’m all for religious education, since it’s important to understand one of the primary motivators for so much conflict in the world, but there’s a difference between education and promotion that’s lost in many of these schools.

Paul Drury, a non-religious parent, has been fighting Castletroy College in Limerick to let them exempt his daughter from taking those classes. Until this week, the school insisted she remain enrolled because it was an all-inclusive course required for graduation. It’s a weird position for the school to take since the Irish Constitution says parents may opt their children out of any classes they deem contrary to their conscience.

School officials finally came to their senses Monday night:

[Read more…]

Stockton (CA) Mayor Holds Meetings in Church to Save Money, but Atheists Found a Free Alternative

Several days ago, I posted about how the city of Stockton, California held a prayer rally after a local tragedy. Mayor Anthony Silva promoted that rally on the city’s website and Facebook page, and also city resources to host the event. Finally, he gave God a “key to the city“:

This wasn’t the first time Silva had promoted religion while on the job. He also “organized Town Hall meetings, co-sponsored by Christian organizations, at Calvary First Assembly of God and at Christian Life Center.” And he told reporters that the locations wouldn’t change:

[Read more…]

Satanists Thank Christian Legal Group for Paving the Way for Their Own Success

If you think about what the Satanic Temple has accomplished recently, it’s impressive for any group, much less one you didn’t even know existed before 2013.

They pressured Oklahoma to reconsider a Ten Commandments monument at its State Capitol building because they wanted a statue of Baphomet in the same space. (The Christian monument was eventually deemed illegal, anyway.) They got a Florida school district to ban Bible distributions because they wanted to give away Satanic-themed coloring books. They got a Satanic display in the Florida State Capitol building to join the Nativity scene last winter. And, perhaps most significantly, they sued the Governor of Missouri on behalf of a member who didn’t want to wait for the 72-hour mandatory waiting period to pass before she could obtain an abortion. She used the argument that waiting so long violated her “religious freedom.”

It’s easy to forget that the Satanic Temple doesn’t actually believe in anything supernatural, including Satan. Yet they’ve forced government officials to recognize that if they want to grant privileges to the Christian majority by saying the door is open to all religions, they may have to treat Satanists the same way. It’s an argument that doesn’t always work with atheist groups who explicitly reject God.

Valerie Tarico, writing at Salon, spoke with the group’s leader Lucien Greaves about their activism, and he makes some excellent points:

[Read more…]

Christians on Twitter Are Complaining About Today’s Evolution Google Doodle

If you’ve been on Google today, then you’ve seen the doodle marking the 41st anniversary of the discovery of Lucy, a set of fossils that helped us understand our species’ own origins:

As predicted yesterday, some Christians on Twitter are already complaining about how this is some sort of assault on their faith:

[Read more…]

White Christians Are Now in the Minority While the Young “Nones” Are on the Rise

According to Pew Research Center data published in the National Journal, white Christians are finally in the minority, dropping from 55% of the population in 2007 to 46% today.

In contrast, the generations born after 1981 — the older and younger Millennials — are continuing the trend of shedding their religious labels. More than a third of their populations are “Unaffiliated,” making that the largest demographic in both age groups.

[Read more…]