The Secular Policy Recommendations That Will Make the Religious Right Squirm

The Secular Coalition for America is releasing its “Model Secular Policy Guide” for politicians with a briefing on Capitol Hill today. (For the sake of publicity, they invited runway models — get it? “Models”? — to serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres to the attendees… which sounds like they’re just gift-wrapping critics a reason to denounce them.)

The guide, endorsed at least in part by more than 86 non-theistic groups across the country, is “meant to help educate legislators on the views of secular and nontheistic Americans on pertinent issues.” The largest section of the report is devoted to advice on health/safety-related issues.

While most of the policy recommendations are no doubt obvious, here’s a rundown of the big ones:

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Church/State Separation Lawsuits Should Be Allowed to Proceed with Anonymous Plaintiffs

When Jessica Ahlquist filed a lawsuit against her high school, the backlash on Twitter was bad. The threats were worse. The same thing happened to Damon Fowler even though he never actually went to court.

When it comes to church/state separation lawsuits, we’ve seen some brave individuals step forward recently and identify themselves.

But what if they didn’t have to come out? Couldn’t the cases just proceed based on their arguments without requiring their names to go in the public record? In some states, that’s not allowed. Filing a lawsuit requires initials for minors and names for adults, making them susceptible to threats and revenge from their enemies.

In a new paper published in The Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law, Professor Benjamin P. Edwards makes the case for why pseudonymous lawsuits should be allowed to proceed and he uses Ahlquist and Fowler to make his case:

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The Homeschooled Christians Who Escaped

Kathryn Joyce, whose muckraking books about abuses within fundamentalist Christian circles are as frightening as they are illuminating, takes us inside the world of “The Homeschool Apostates” in the latest issue of American Prospect.

She profiles two daughters who broke free from their prison-warden-like parents:

The family’s isolation made it worse. The children couldn’t date — that was a given — but they also weren’t allowed to develop friendships. Between ages 10 and 12, Lauren says she only got to see friends once a week at Sunday school, increasing to twice a week in her teens when her parents let her participate in mock trial, a popular activity for Christian homeschoolers. Their parents wanted them naïve and sheltered, Lauren says: “18 going on 12.”

Her sister Jennifer had it worse. She was vegan, which pissed off her parents (because, you know, the Bible says God made animals so we could eat them).

Lauren and Jennifer eventually got away from their parents, thanks in part to a network of other former-homeschooled kids called Homeschoolers Anonymous.

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Catholic School Fires Veteran Teacher After He Decides to Get Married

Michael Griffin graduated from Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Later, he taught foreign languages at the school for 12 years. And on Friday, he was fired.

He didn’t do anything wrong. There were no problems with his teaching. He just decided to get married to his long-time boyfriend and the school wouldn’t accept it. Griffin briefly explained the situation on his Facebook page Friday morning:

Today I applied for a marriage license since NJ now has marriage equality. After 12 years together I was excited to finally be able to marry my partner. Because of that, I was fired from Holy Ghost Preparatory School today. I am an alumnus of the school and have taught there for 12 years. I feel hurt, saddened, betrayed and except for this post, am at a loss for words. If you’d like to share your words with my principal or headmaster, please do. jdanilak@holyghostprep.org or jmccloskey@holyghostprep.org


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Putting the Almighty to the Test: This Church Will Return Your Donations if You’re Not Rewarded by God in 90 Days

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses Sagebrush Community Church’s recent “Tithing Challenge” where they said they’d return your donations if God didn’t reward you in 90 days:



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