President Obama, at Prayer Breakfast, Defends Rights of Those with ‘No Faith At All’

Let us take it as a given that the President of the United States’ participation in the National Prayer Breakfast his highly problematic to say the least. When we make a tradition of the elected chief executive publicly kissing the ring of sectarian religion, it turns it into a quasi-official event, flying in the face of basic secularism and the Constitution. It’s a bad thing.

All that said (and said with fervency), via RNS’s Brian Pellot, we learn that at said breakfast, President Obama had a positive message that we secularists wholeheartedly embrace: the need for people of all religions and of no religion to believe and express themselves as they will, without threat of retaliation, discrimination, or criminalization.

And, importantly, it was said before a conservative religious audience. The president said:

[Read more...]

Secular Wedding Celebrants May Soon Become a Reality in New Jersey

While Chris Christie attempts to fire and flail his way out of his bridge scandal, something actually pretty encouraging is happening under the radar in New Jersey. The Garden State may soon allow secular civil celebrants to officiate marriages. The New Jersey State Senate voted 32-5 in a favor of that bill today.

In March of 2012, a bill was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula that adds to the list of those already authorized to solemnize marriages in New Jersey this amendment:

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Imprisonment for Blasphemy and Religious Dissent Around the World Detailed in New Report

Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a Brussels-based nonprofit, has released a rather comprehensive report on those who have been imprisoned for religious dissent around the world, and the countries who imprison them. Of particular note to this audience is the report’s acknowledgment of the nonreligious.

This year, a specific section has been created for prisoners whose freedom of expression related to religious issues was violated on the basis of laws against blasphemy, defamation of religion or the Prophet and similar issues: Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia and Turkey.

[Read more...]

Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Faces Apostasy Charges, Could Be Executed

Saudi blogger and religious dissident Raif Badawi has been cruelly punished and toyed with by the Saudi legal system for about a year now, and things have taken a darker turn. According to Badawi’s wife, now living in Lebanon, the high court will try Badawi on the charge of apostasy. If convicted, Badawi could be executed. [Read more...]

How Atheists Celebrate the Holidays (Or Don’t), at HuffPost Live

Are you celebrating Christmas today? Atheists’ experience of the holiday of course runs that gamut, with many going the Full Santa, complete with decorated trees and tinsel and candy canes and jolliness and all the rest, while others happily opt out of marking the day or the season in any way — and everything else in between. (My four-year-old boy got up this morning entirely disappointed that Santa was not in the living room waiting for him. Don’t worry, he came around.)

At HuffPost Live, host Josh Zepps (who is also the new co-host of Point of Inquiry, my organization’s podcast) gathered some atheist thinkers and activists to discuss the topic of the way atheists celebrate (or not) Christmas. [Read more...]


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