Group with Atheist-y Name Claims Responsibility for Bombing of Christian Group’s Veterans Memorial

You may recall that, back in August, there was a small explosion near the Mingus Park Vietnam War Memorial cross in Coos Bay, Oregon. No one was hurt, but the cross was slightly damaged.

At the time, the fingers were pointing straight at atheist groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation:

“We unfortunately are now to the point where explosive devices are being placed next to crosses,” said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation at the Liberty Institute.

“These people will stop at nothing to intimidate communities to tear down their veterans memorials,” Sasser told Fox News. “Now the crazies are trying to blow one up.”

Sasser called on the FFRF to stop “fanning the flames of hostility toward veterans memorials.”

“There are consequences for fomenting hatred for what were once obscure veterans memorials,” he said. “The FFRF should immediately condemn this dangerous criminal act.”

FFRF challenged the religious memorial on legal grounds, but we know they would never resort to tactics like this. Still, days later, just to set the record straight, FFRF condemned the actions:

FFRF condemns this violent and reckless act. We are in fact not aware of any act of violence committed by a nonbeliever in the name of keeping religion out of government. We have had FFRF billboards and banners vandalized and stolen on occasion, and been the recipient of many threats of violence over the years, so we know how it feels. Dynamiting the Buddhas at Bamiyan or terrorizing abortion clinics are the tyrannical tactics of religious fanatics, not the Freedom From Religion Foundation. We have never, and will never, advocate or employ violence against those with whom we disagree.

In the weeks to follow there was little development in the case, but yesterday, there was a strange breakthrough: All City Council members and The World (a newspaper serving the Coos Bay community) received a letter from the purported criminal(s).

The writer appears to be a member of an atheist group.

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In Hobby Lobby We Don’t Trust: Why Their Independence Day Ad is Full of Distortions and Lies

Since 2008, the Christian-owned chain Hobby Lobby has run full-page ads in newspapers across the country on Independence Day. The ad features quotations from our Founding Fathers and others discussing our country’s “Christian heritage”… and, as you might expect, it takes all sorts of liberties in the process:

Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Andrew Seidel and Chuck Roslof have done what Hobby Lobby refuses to do: Tell the truth about what all those people actually meant and, in some cases, said.

The quotes are meant to give the false impression that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that our nation “trusts in God.” But, just like Hobby Lobby’s god, the quotes aren’t very trustworthy. They are wildly inaccurate in some cases.

They have created a beautiful website that picks apart all of the quotations used in the Hobby Lobby ad — they explain how distorted or irrelevant the statements are, what the actual quotations were (in context), and offer links so you can check it all out for yourself.

For example, Hobby Lobby quoted the French observer Achille Murat in 2009 this way:

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Alabama House Republicans Launch Completely Unnecessary Petition Against Fictional ‘War on Prayer’

Last month, we learned that Cullman County Schools (Alabama) Superintendent Billy Coleman was planning his third annual “Prayer Caravan” in which he visited the schools in his district and prayed for them.

There’s only one important question for us here: Was the Prayer Caravan illegal? If a bunch of private citizens wanted to pray, they have every right to do that. However, the moment Coleman used school resources and his official title to promote the event, he crossed the line.

Just to be clear: FFRF’s only objection to this event was that it gave off the impression of being supported by the district.

But Alabama House Republicans — the bright bunch at they are — don’t care about the facts. They’ve launched a petition they intend to send to FFRF headquarters in Wisconsin in which they voice their opposition to the group’s non-existent “War on Prayer.”

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FFRF Responds After Getting Blamed for Mingus Park Cross Explosion

Late last week, there was a small explosion near the Mingus Park Vietnam War Memorial cross in Coos Bay, Oregon. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the cross was slightly damaged.

As I wrote over the weekend, atheists were getting blamed for the crime. Specifically, a Christian leader was blaming the Freedom From Religion Foundation for “fomenting hatred” because they had challenged the constitutionality of the cross on public property.

Today, FFRF released this statement about the cross explosion:

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Is Atheism a Religion? That Question’s at the Heart of a Lawsuit Over Housing Credits for ‘Ministers of the Gospel’

For a couple of years now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in a legal battle to end the “parish exemption” that allows ministers to deduct the cost of their mortgage/utilities/parking/furnishings from their taxable income. FFRF argues that this shows preferential treatment for religious leaders.

In fact, FFRF’s own board has paid its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor $15,000 each as part of their housing allowance, but because they don’t qualify as “ministers of the gospel,” they’re arguing that the law doesn’t apply to them and, therefore, it’s illegal. (For what it’s worth, they didn’t try to obtain the exemption and get rejected; they’re simply speaking on principle.)

In a recent twist to the case, the U.S. Department of Justice is arguing that atheism is a religion, so Barker and Gaylor should be able to qualify for the exemption:

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