Arkansas Judge Defends Courthouse Creche But Forbids Atheist Sign Since It’d Open the Door to ‘Hundreds’ of Displays

This is the scene in front of the Baxter County Courthouse in Mountain Home, Arkansas:

As you can see, it’s a giant Nativity scene (with what appears to be Santa Claus and a Christmas tree thrown in for good measure).

Well, we know how the rules for this work: You can’t *just* promote Christianity with your holiday displays on government property. And that’s exactly what the Appignani Humanist Legal Center said to County Judge Mickey Pendergrass in a letter sent on Wednesday:

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Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist Apologizes for Supporting Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment, but Does He Mean It?

Last week, the Florida LGBT publication Watermark published an interview with former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, marking the governor’s first-ever interview with the LGBT press. While this could have been a prime opportunity for the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democratic politician to atone for his past sins against LGBT folks in his state, he did little more than admit how wrong he was.

Crist says he left the Republican Party not because he changed, but because “the Republican Party went nuts.” But Crist adhered to the party’s anti-gay policies — which haven’t changed — without protest a few years back. In 2008, Florida voters just barely approved of Amendment 2, which added a provision to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. Crist had initially expressed apathy toward the measure, but then had an apparent change of heart and told Floridians to vote for it.

Watermark interviewer (and publisher) Tom Dyer called him out on it — and didn’t accept his apology:

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South Carolina Lawmakers Renew Effort to Introduce Prayer in Public Schools, Selling It as a Long Moment of Silence

I wanted to put together a list of all the places where Americans are allowed to pray unhindered, but it occurred to me that I should just present a picture for slower readers. Here it is. I hope this is clear enough:

Prayer is one hundred percent permissible everywhere. In every home. In every office and factory and shopping mall. In every church, mosque, and synagogue. Also, in every car, bus, or train; in every park and every forest; and (get this) in every school and every government building.

If you’re a believer, you may pray quietly any time, any place — plus, if you’re not in a well-frequented library, a classroom, or a theater, you may even talk to your God out loud.

But that’s not enough for millions of Christians. They support what 10 god-bothering South Carolina lawmakers propose to do with House Bill 3526: push communal prayer onto the daily program of every public school:

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Mayor of Flower Mound, Texas Declares 2014 ‘Year of the Bible’ and Launches Website Declaring the Bible as Truth

Flower Mound, Texas Mayor Tom Hayden proclaimed 2014 the “Year of the Bible” at the December 16 City Council meeting and the depths with which this government official is using his title and office to promote Christianity is unbelievable.

Check out his official announcement at the meeting:

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At the Last Second, Supreme Court Blocks Affordable Care Act Contraception Mandate

When you consider that the Supreme Court has six Catholics on the bench, maybe this news isn’t too surprising: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, just before heading to Times Square to help drop the ball and ring in the new year, blocked the part of the Affordable Care Act that would have mandated certain religiously-affiliated organizations provide comprehensive health care to their employees.

Her ruling means that, for now, certain religiously-affiliated businesses will not have to provide health insurance that includes birth control to their workers. The government has until Friday to respond.

Here’s a little more information about what’s going on:

[This post is still being updated]

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