The Giant Portrait of Jesus is Finally Coming Down

It looks like the giant portrait of Jesus that was hanging at Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Ohio is finally coming down for good:

Last we heard, it was being moved to a local high school while the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawsuit was going through the court.

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The ‘Stomp on Jesus’ Professor Finally Tells His Side of the Story

Last week, I wrote about a controversy concerning a student at Florida Atlantic University, his professor, and “Jesus” written on a piece of paper. I asked the question “Did a student really get suspended for refusing to ‘stomp on Jesus’?”

The answer, it seems, is probably not.

If you didn’t catch it, here’s a quick recap:

Junior Ryan Rotela, a Mormon, was in his Multi-Cultural Communications class taught by Dr. Deandre Poole. As a class activity, Dr. Poole asked all students to get out a piece of paper and write “JESUS” on it. He then asked them to put the paper on the ground and step on it. Rotela refused and, as a result, was suspended from Dr. Poole’s class… or, at least, that’s Rotela’s version of the story.

Last week, I postulated that it seemed unlikely that this is was how the story actually went down, but we only had Rotela’s account to work off of.

Normally, I really love being proven right, but this particular story has me pretty unhappy with the way it panned out.

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Arkansas State Representative Calls Eight-Year-Old Atheist a Fool

The Arkansas legislature just passed a bill called HB 1690 that will enact a freakishly-long moment of silence in the classroom:

A public school in this state shall observe a one (1) minute period of silence at the beginning of school each school day.

A minute. A full damn minute.

That’s not a “moment” of silence. That’s not a “period” of silence. That an “excruciatingly long goddamn minute” of silence.

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Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Krieger Doesn’t Care if Atheists Get Harassed by Christians

Back in December, I posted about a Ten Commandments monument that sits outside Valley High School in New Kensington, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh):

Three plaintiffs (including two students) filed a lawsuit against that monument with the help of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They wanted to remove that obvious promotion of Christianity from the school. Initially, though, there was a stumbling block: In order to proceed with the case, the students were not allowed to hide behind pseudonyms. They had to let everyone know who they were.

In other words, instead of proceeding with the case on the basis of merit and defending the Constitution, they had to expose themselves to harassment from their classmates and community. As we saw in Jessica Ahlquist‘s case, people are not very kind to perceived threats against their religious privilege.

There were already threats coming to the third plaintiff (a parent in the district), so a judge agreed the students could use aliases. And all was well and good.

But now, a state representative is disregarding all of that. He wants young atheists to deal with the consequences if they fight back against monuments dedicated to his faith. He has written a bill — House Bill 922 — that would no longer allow those students to remain anonymous:

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New Report Recommends Changes to Muslim Religious Schools in Bradford (England)

Last week, a report about the treatment of children in madrassas located in Bradford (a town in England) was released. Entitled Children Do Matter and being issued after a twelve-month period of research and consultation, the report was jointly produced by groups including the Bradford Council for Mosques, Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, National Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and West Yorkshire Police.

Bradford and the West Yorkshire area in general has one of the highest Muslim populations in the UK. The 2001 census showed that 16.08% of the population identified as Muslim. To meet this demand, there are a large number of madrassas, some of which operate less reputably than others.

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