Freedom From Religion Foundation Sues Pismo Beach (California) City Council for Its Sectarian Invocation Prayers

Just days before the Supreme Court hears the case of Town of Greece v Galloway, the city of Pismo Beach, California just got served with a major lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation over sectarian prayers at city council meetings.

In short, the Pismo Beach City Council has offered explicitly Christian invocation prayers at its meetings 125 of the past 126 times (from 1/1/2008 through 10/15/2013). That one exception still included the city’s Chaplain Paul Jones saying the Pledge of Allegiance. (And why does the city have an official Chaplain in the first place?)

These are not non-denominational prayers. These are prayers to Jesus. These are prayers that promote Christianity. These are prayers that have no business at government meetings.

There’s also historical revisionism in many of the prayers, the kind that would make Christian pseudo-historian David Barton proud.

FFRF has the transcripts (more than a hundred pages of them, which must have taken an incredibly long time) and the invocations are simply indefensible:

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Irish Atheists Urge Repeal of Nation’s Blasphemy Law at Constitutional Convention

Over the weekend, the Convention on the Constitution held meetings in Ireland to discuss changes to the nation’s Constitution and then make recommendations to the government.

Relevant to us is the need to repeal the blasphemy law, which currently states:

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

Atheist Ireland has been fighting for the law’s repeal for a while now and the group’s Chairperson Michael Nugent spoke at this weekend’s convention alongside fellow advocates for the law’s repeal, Professor David Nash of Oxford Brookes University and Human Rights Officer of Atheist Ireland Jane Donnelly:



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The Friendly Atheist Book Club Is Now Open!

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses the Friendly Atheist Book Club:

More on the book club right 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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You Can Now Pre-Order A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God

For more than a year now, I’ve been posting videos from Chris Johnson who has been working on a multimedia book about atheists called A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.

That book, which is now available for pre-order, will be released on January 1.



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Texas A&M University to Offer New Course Combining Neuroscience with Religion

Texas A&M University is developing a new elective class for biomedical sciences students that will be all about the intersection of religion and science… and it makes no sense at all:

“We explore how neuroscience and religion should inform and enrich each other,” Klemm said. Although the course is based on reading assignments from his textbook, titled “Core Ideas in Neuroscience,” those principles will be accompanied by religious and philosophic perspectives. For example, when discussing evolution of the nervous system, the students will also consider the Biblical book of Genesis and other creation stories. The lesson about action potentials — the cellular process that transmits information within and between neurons — will also include a discussion of Descartes and dualism between mind and brain.

That’s great. So they’ll discuss how our nervous system evolved and then talk about fairy tales that add nothing to their science knowledge. Sounds like 50% of the class would be wasted.

Science and philosophy can go together. So can science and ethics. But science and religion? How would learning what Genesis says about anything help students learn more about neuroscience? We never find out.

The class will be taught by Dr. W.R. Klemm (below) who has a reason he wants to throw religion into the mix:



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