What I Said to Bernie Sanders About His Appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live

On Friday night, I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph a presidential hopeful and represent atheists at the same time. Bernie Sanders was making an appearance at the historic Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa for an event called “Rockin the Bern” and I had the chance to photograph him.

How did that happen? A friend of mine is running for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s 1st District and was invited to introduce Mr. Sanders, so I acquired a media pass to photograph my friend and the event. (I wasn’t representing any media outlet and — full disclosure — I’m making my images available to both my friend’s campaign and the Sanders campaign.)

​As I drove the two hours from my house to Davenport, I began thinking about what I would say or ask Sanders if I had the opportunity at some point in the night. My mind immediately went to religion.

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This Map Shows You Which Law Enforcement Agencies Have “In God We Trust” Stickers on Vehicles

Since 1956, the U.S. motto has been “In God We Trust”… which is silly, since it doesn’t even apply to a large swath of the country. That’s why a group of activists recently began the Original Motto Project, hoping to remind everyone that the original (though unofficial) motto of the country was once “E pluribus unum” (out of many, one).

To that end, they just compiled a map of all the police departments and sheriff’s offices in America that have put “In God We Trust” decals on all vehicles. The leaders of those agencies always claim it’s “just the motto,” concealing their true intention of pushing Christianity onto everyone else.

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During Invocation in Winter Garden (Florida), Atheist Reminds Commissioners: “Let Us Play”

Winter Garden (Florida) has been the site of a few church/state separation problems over the past year. It began when an atheist, Joseph Richardson, was kicked out of a public meeting for not standing during the invocation or Pledge of Allegiance (even though no one should ever be forced to participate in either). That led to a back and forth over whether religion should be at public meetings at all. This past March, after temporarily doing away with prayers at meetings, they voted to bring back the invocations.

And how has that gone? In the past seven months, there have been 14 meetings… and with one exception, when there was just a moment of silence, every invocation has been delivered by a Christian pastor. No diversity whatsoever and a very clear violation of the law. The Central Florida Freethought Community and Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters to the Winter Garden Commissioners early last week, warning them about the First Amendment violations they were committing when, in what seemed to be a total coincidence, they decided to do the right thing.

Atheist Ed Lynch was invited to deliver an invocation on Thursday — and he made sure to make the most of it. He thanked Richardson for putting this whole process in motion and told the Commissioners, “Let us play.”

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Friendly Atheist Podcast Episode 78: David Williamson, Secular Invocation Activist

Our latest podcast guest is David Williamson, founder and President of the Central Florida Freethought Community.

His group has been leading the way when it comes to getting atheists to give invocations at local government meetings.

I spoke with David about why secular invocations are so valuable, step by step instructions on what local activists can do to get on these invocation lists, and what atheists should say if they get the opportunity to speak in front of government officials.

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Church Gives County Officials $2,000 to Thank Them for Promoting Christian Prayers at Meetings

If you needed evidence that government praying is all about promoting Christianity, just look at what’s happening in Pittsylvania County in Virginia.

A full recap is here but a quick summary will work: In 2012, the county’s Board of Supervisors began each meeting with a prayer to Jesus Christ. And it wasn’t citizens saying the prayers, but the Supervisors themselves, which clearly violated the law.

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