No, the Anti-Gay Christian Version of the Boy Scouts is Not Promoting This ‘Sieg Heil’ Salute

Over the weekend, MSN and other news outlets posted a story about Trail Life USA, the Christian version of the Boy Scouts that bans gay members. Some of those outlets happened to include this awkwardly-timed picture taken during a singing of the song “Taps”:

Chairman of the board John Stemberger is now trying to do damage control (as if the group’s reputation was so great to begin with…):

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New Atheist Billboard Campaign Shows That It’s Not Just Mormons Who Live in Utah

A new billboard campaign from American Atheists, in anticipation of their upcoming national convention, attempts to show Utahns that Mormons aren’t the only game in town:

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This Pastor’s in Trouble with His Church for Supporting the LGBT Community but Atheists Are Coming to His Defense

Last week, for a local newspaper, Rev. Seth Pickens wrote a brief list of reasons he supports the LGBT community:

2. Some want to get married, and some don’t; go figure. They also bleed red if you cut them.

3. With the bullying and hate many face, they qualify as an oppressed people. Christians support oppressed people.

7. Homosexual behavior is documented in many species of animals; maybe some are just born that way.

8. As much respect as I have for the soul of animals, I have even more respect for human beings.

I have a couple of complaints about the list, but on the whole, it’s quite a breath of fresh air compared to what we usually see from pastors. Yet that simple list got him in a lot of trouble with his church community. (It probably didn’t help matters that he performed a wedding ceremony for a lesbian couple last year.)

At Religion Dispatches, Sikivu Hutchinson tells the story of why she and some of her atheist friends are supporting him as he goes through this ordeal at church:

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AC Grayling’s The God Argument is Now Available in Paperback

In case you haven’t read it yet, philosopher AC Grayling‘s book The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism is available in paperback beginning today:

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California Farmers Must Be Really Desperate if They’re Resorting to This

I understand that California’s going through a dry season right now… but this is not the way to solve the problem:

The nation’s fourth-largest wine maker, Bronco Wine Co., says it uses dowsers on its 40,000 acres of California vineyards, and dozens of smaller farmers and homeowners looking for wells on their property also pay for dowsers. Nationwide, the American Society of Dowsers, Inc. boasts dozens of local chapters, which meet annually at a conference.

“It’s kind of bizarre. Scientists don’t believe in it, but I do and most of the farmers in the Valley do,” said Marc Mondavi, a vineyard owner whose family has been growing grapes and making wine since the mid-20th century in the Napa Valley.

Dowsers are “magical” tools that use “natural energy” to find water and minerals. You basically dig where you think the dowser is telling you to dig… you ignore all the times when there’s nothing below and count the successes as a miracle. Often, the dowser “tells” you to dig precisely where you’d expect water to be found — who’d have guessed?!

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