Remember the 18-foot-wide sign welcoming visitors to the city of Hawkins, Texas?
Yes, we are still talking about the Mount Soledad cross.
Here’s a quick recap in case you’re unfamiliar with the story: The controversy, which began more than 25 years ago, is the longest-running Establishment Clause case in American history.
It involves the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego — a huge cross on public land erected in 1954. While it’s marketed as a veteran’s memorial, it’s very clearly intended to promote Christianity and honor only Christian soldiers.
After the now-deceased Philip Paulson challenged the cross’ constitutionality more than two decades ago and after atheist Steve Trunk took up the case after that, atheists have generally prevailed in the court system. In 2012, the Supreme Court declined to hear any more challenges from Christian groups, putting the future of the cross back in the hands of lower courts.
Last night, during a meeting of the DeLand City Commission in Florida, Jake Lee Smith delivered that city’s first-ever secular invocation:
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:
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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