A Day After the Nebraska State Capitol Gets a Nativity Scene, an Atheist Sign Becomes Its Neighbor… Temporarily

Late last night, I heard that the Nebraska State Capitol building was home to a Nativity scene:

The small display, a cedar manger about 6 feet across and 4 feet high, was made possible by a Catholic-associated attorneys association that is seeking to place Nativity scenes in state capitols and other public places across the country.

“We want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas,” said Omaha attorney Christine Delgado, who heads the Omaha branch of the Thomas More Society.

Nebraska State Capitol Administrator Bob Ripley said Thursday that he has not fielded any requests for competing displays, but he added that some people have asked if other religions could erect displays.

“Believe me, if we allow a Christian religion to come in, we’d allow any other religion to come in,” Ripley said. “Short of something in poor taste or illegal.”

Great! Because atheists know how to play this game by now. And wouldn’t you know it, just hours later, Scott Braley, a member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, had put up an atheist sign:

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“Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” Baptist City Council Member Reminds Jews at Menorah-Lighting Ceremony

The city of Springfield (Massachusetts) held it’s annual menorah-lighting ceremony to mark the first day of Hanukkah this past Tuesday. Among the 150 attendees was Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams.

While Williams is a Baptist, he decided to offer his own reflections on the Jewish holiday:

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Now, you might think this was bizarrely out of place at a celebration for the Jewish Festival of Lights. And you’d be right.

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Louisiana Governor’s Prayer Rally Will Bring Together Despicable Christian Leaders to Accomplish Nothing

The first problem with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal‘s upcoming prayer rally a month from now is that he’s hosting a prayer rally.

In his invitation, he made it very clear that he wanted to use his position to advance Christianity:

Our nation is faced with fatherless homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our inner cities, a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism — Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope. We need Spiritual Transformation.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State made clear that Jindal had completely crossed a line:

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Atheist Group Sues Wisconsin Officials for Violating Open Records Law

Back in July, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed an open records request with Wisconsin state officials asking how they planned to implement the law following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

[Plaintiff and FFRF attorney Patrick] Elliott made a series of open records requests of the Office of the Commissioner after a reported agency decision that Wisconsin’s contraceptive mandate, known as the Contraceptive Equity Law, would no longer be enforced because it was preempted by the June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

FFRF and many other observers disagreed, since the Religious Freedom Restoration Act under which the ruling was decided applies only to the federal government, not states.

Elliott asked for specific documents regarding how state officials communicated with each other regarding contraceptive coverage.

What he eventually got back were just a handful of documents that didn’t even come close to fulfilling the whole request. That’s illegal, says FFRF, and they’re suing over this lack of transparency:

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Missouri Republican’s Bill Would Ban Abortions Without Father’s Permission… Unless It Was a “Legitimate Rape”

Suppose you encountered a circumstance where your right to bodily autonomy, to control your own reproductive choices, was disregarded. Your first thought probably wouldn’t be “now how can I deprive someone else of similar rights?”

Then again, you’re not Missouri Republican state representative Rick Brattin.

Brattin, a “devoted Christian” legislator with a history of promoting Intelligent Design and anti-abortion legislation, claims that he needed his wife’s permission to get a recent vasectomy. While Missouri Planned Parenthood notes that this is not a legal requirement in Missouri, some clinics (not Planned Parenthood) do make this procedure’s availability contingent on a wife’s permission. This, too, is an appalling disregard for a person’s autonomy and right to make his own reproductive choices.

But Brattin used that experience to make a point about why his state needed to come down even harder against such decisions:

Here I was getting a normal procedure that has nothing to do with another human being’s life, and I needed to get a signed form… But on ending a life, you don’t. I think that’s pretty twisted.

To that end, he wrote a bill that would impose such a requirement on women: that if they want an abortion, they must first get the permission of the man with whom they got pregnant.

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