Secular Invocation in DeLand, Florida Includes Charlie Chaplin Line: “In This World There is Room for Everyone”

Last night, during a meeting of the DeLand City Commission in Florida, Jake Lee Smith delivered that city’s first-ever secular invocation:



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New United Arab Emirates Anti-Discrimination Law Will Punish Vocal Atheists Who Criticize Religion

You’ll be happy to know that President Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi just enacted a new law making it a crime to discriminate on the basis of “religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.”

Just one problem with that. They’re not kidding about protecting people on the basis of religion:

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In Defense of the $100 Million Donation Toward the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

After all those pictures of Pluto came back last week, plenty of people oohed and aahed over the details in the images. It’s really incredible that we landed on the moon 46 years ago and we’re already exploring the edge of our solar system.

But for all the jaw-dropping pictures, there are still people who wonder why we spent money on the journey at all… even though the $720 million New Horizons satellite cost less money than a football stadium. For that cash, we now have a slightly better understanding of the universe we live in and our place within it, arguably the biggest ideas humanity has ever grappled with. More directly, scientists will be parsing through the mission data for years to come, so there’s more information coming down the pipeline, and that doesn’t even address all the economic benefits that come from space exploration in general.

Following that, it’s exciting (yes, really) to hear that philanthropist and Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner has just put down $100 million of his own money over the next decade to further the search for extraterrestrial life:

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What Ta-Nehisi Coates, an Atheist, Can Teach Us About Social Advocacy

Ta-Nehisi Coates is undeniably one of the strongest and most influential voices on racial inequality today. He also is one of the most polarizing. For those who have followed the career of The Atlantic‘s Coates — or, indeed, this blog — it’s far from a revelation that he is an atheist. This isn’t news. He’s written at length on his position, both as standalone pieces and social media posts. With the publication of his new book Between the World and Me, though, this element of his identity has once more come to the forefront in a manner worth interrogating.



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Pedophile-Protecting Former Archbishop Allegedly Cruised for Gay Sex in the ’80s

We’re used to the Catholic Church covering up sex scandals. So when an archdiocese says it’s “considering” the release of affidavits about a former archbishop’s sexual behavior, you have to wonder what’s going on beneath the surface.

John Nienstedt (below) resigned his position as Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul last month, ten days after Ramsey County (which includes the city of St. Paul) filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese. The lawsuit stated that the archdiocese had failed to protect children from abusive priests.



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