Should the West Take Action Against the Nigerian Islamists Who Are Hiding and Selling 200 Kidnapped Girls?

Of all the groups qualifying for the title “scum of the earth,” Nigeria-based Boko Haram gets my vote.

I’ve written about these cruelest of child killers and rapists before. Their strategy and focus is markedly different from their Islamist brethren. You see, Boko Haram — a name that means “Western education is sinful” — consists of violent fundies who love targeting schools, teachers, and students, in a series of loathsome acts not seen since Muslim terrorists killed almost 400 pupils and teachers in Beslan, Russia.

Education is no accidental target, the Guardian‘s Jill Filipovic reminds us:

[Boko Haram] correctly understand that education sets girls on a path to economic independence and self-reliance. Education also makes girls (and women) less dependent on men, less subservient to authority and less acquiescent to the social and religious strictures that don’t serve girls’ overall interests — educated women are more likely to refuse practices like female genital cutting, for instance, better able to resist domestic violence, and less tolerant of discrimination.

The group has been back in the news thanks to the monstrous April 14 kidnapping of 276 girls.



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Supreme Court Disaster: In a 5-4 Ruling, Justices Approve of Christian Prayers in Greece, New York

In a disappointing 5-4 ruling this morning, the Supreme Court ruled that sectarian prayers could be used at government meetings, at least in the town of Greece.

(If you need more background on the case, please read this.)

The conservatives on the court, along with Justice Anthony Kennedy voted to keep the prayers while the reliably liberal justices offered a dissent.

One silver lining in all of this is that the conservatives did not say that this means Christian prayers are okay everywhere. Their ruling appears to be limited in scope only to the town of Greece:

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Why is Kentucky Spending Millions of Taxpayer Dollars to Bus Children to Private Religious Schools?

Public education has taken a beating in a lot of states over the past few years, but what’s happening in Kentucky makes no sense at all:

Over the last six years, as the state of Kentucky shrank public education funding, it spent nearly $18 million to pay for student busing at private, mostly religious schools in two dozen counties, according to state financial records.

The religious schools have come to rely on government aid for their transportation — but the whole point of private schools is that they are funded by parents who want to opt out of the government system. If you don’t want to enroll your kids in public school, you have that choice, but why should tax dollars support transportation costs for schools that serve to indoctrinate?

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An Atheist Paid for a Banner to be Placed in This City’s Public Square… So How Come Most People Can’t See It?

Two weeks ago, in anticipation of both the National Day of Prayer and National Day of Reason, atheist Justin Vacula of the NEPA Freethought Society went to the Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania) City Hall, gave them a check for $50, and handed them a banner reading “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” to put up in the public square. That banner was supposed to go up on April 28. For whatever reason, city officials didn’t put it up until three days later… but it’s finally up!

There’s the banner about Mental Health Month, and the banner for the National Day of Prayer, and… hey, wait, where’s Justin’s banner?

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Today’s New York Times Features the Story of Alexander Aan, Who Spent 19 Months in Jail for Promoting Atheism

It’s good to see an article about Alexander Aan in today’s New York Times. Aan,. you may recall, is the atheist from Indonesia who was thrown in jail for 19 months for “inciting religious hatred” (which is really code for: he was promoting atheism online).

Joe Cochrane writes:

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