South Dakota Bill That Would Have Allowed Teachers to Promote Intelligent Design in School is Killed by Its Sponsor

Last week, South Dakota legislators proposed Senate Bill 112, a bill that would allow teachers to preach Intelligent Design despite the fact that it’s essentially synonymous with pushing religion in the classroom:

In short, the law — sponsored by over a dozen Republicans — would make it legal for teachers to push ID without punishment.

However, today, the bill’s main sponsor, Jeff Monroe, said he was scrapping the legislation because, as one reporter put it, “it was badly written”:

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Virginia Legislators Make the Right Call and Abandon Bill to Legalize Prayer During School Events

It was just over a week ago when we were talking about a Virginia bill, Senate Bill No. 236, that would legalize student-led, administration-supported proselytizing at football games, during morning announcements, graduation ceremonies, and anywhere else where students had a public forum.

The Senate passed the bill on a 20-18 vote, and it passed through a House Committee on Education earlier this week.

To my shock — especially since Republicans have a sizable majority in the House — the bill hit a wall when it got to the House Courts of Justice subcommittee on constitutional law. Turns out letting students use every public forum provided by the school as an opportunity to proselytize isn’t such a great idea after all…

The highlight of the debate may have been when delegates were listening to the warnings of ACLU of Virginia director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga (below):



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Yesterday, Another Arizona Legislator Delivered a Godless Invocation on the House Floor

Remember last year, when Arizona State Rep. Juan Mendez delivered a secular invocation on the House floor?

Carl Sagan once wrote, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” There is, in the political process, much to bear. In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our Constitution, for our democracy — and let us root our policymaking process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans regardless of religious belief or nonbelief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us work together for a better Arizona.

It was that awesome.

Well, yesterday, on a day when representatives from the Secular Student Alliance and the Secular Coalition for Arizona were visiting the state capitol, another politician delivered a godless prayer. This time, Rep. Ruben Gallego (below) did the honors:

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President Obama, at Prayer Breakfast, Defends Rights of Those with ‘No Faith At All’

Let us take it as a given that the President of the United States’ participation in the National Prayer Breakfast his highly problematic to say the least. When we make a tradition of the elected chief executive publicly kissing the ring of sectarian religion, it turns it into a quasi-official event, flying in the face of basic secularism and the Constitution. It’s a bad thing.

All that said (and said with fervency), via RNS’s Brian Pellot, we learn that at said breakfast, President Obama had a positive message that we secularists wholeheartedly embrace: the need for people of all religions and of no religion to believe and express themselves as they will, without threat of retaliation, discrimination, or criminalization.

And, importantly, it was said before a conservative religious audience. The president said:

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Todd Starnes of Fox News Lies Again: A School Did Not Cancel ‘Merica Monday’ Because It Would Offend Non-Americans

Fox News’ Todd Starnes has a nasty habit of parroting every story of Christian persecution he hears… even if there’s no truth to them.

He was on a roll in December, writing about a Georgia school that confiscated Christian cards (even though they didn’t) and a Texas school that banned Christmas trees (even though they didn’t).

Starnes is back in top form now, writing about Fort Collins High School in Colorado because administrators supposedly decided to cancel a spirit day honoring America because they didn’t want to offend non-Americans:

The student council at Fort Collins High School had proposed having a day to celebrate the United States during next week’s Winter Spirit Week. The young people pitched “’Merica Monday” and invited their classmates to dress in patriotic colors. Their proposal was promptly shot down by administrators.

“They said they didn’t want to be exclusive to any other country,” a 17-year-old member of the student council told me.

The irony, said the students, is that they are required to participate in Cinco de Mayo celebrations. One member of the student council pointed out the hypocrisy — and noted that students were not being forced to dress in red, white and blue for “’Merica Day.”

“We were confused why we couldn’t do one day that was for America,” the student told me.

Of course, the reality of the situation is that Starnes chose to ignore the school’s side of the story because it didn’t fit into his jingoistic narrative.

Here’s what really happened.



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