Church/State Separation Lawsuits Should Be Allowed to Proceed with Anonymous Plaintiffs

When Jessica Ahlquist filed a lawsuit against her high school, the backlash on Twitter was bad. The threats were worse. The same thing happened to Damon Fowler even though he never actually went to court.

When it comes to church/state separation lawsuits, we’ve seen some brave individuals step forward recently and identify themselves.

But what if they didn’t have to come out? Couldn’t the cases just proceed based on their arguments without requiring their names to go in the public record? In some states, that’s not allowed. Filing a lawsuit requires initials for minors and names for adults, making them susceptible to threats and revenge from their enemies.

In a new paper published in The Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law, Professor Benjamin P. Edwards makes the case for why pseudonymous lawsuits should be allowed to proceed and he uses Ahlquist and Fowler to make his case:

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A ‘Ministry of Hospitality’… That Excludes Atheists

Daily Free Press, the student newspaper at Boston University, recently ran an article about the religious diversity on campus with a spotlight on the Interfaith Council:

[University Chaplain for International Students Rev. Brittany] Longsdorf also explained that there are multiple resources available for students to explore their faith, learn about other faiths, or even just voice their opinions.

“Students are at a place where they’re okay to say, ‘I’m not sure if this religion is absolutely correct — I’m not sure if any religion is absolutely correct — but there are all of these options for me to explore right in front of me,’” she said.

Just one problem with that. When the Humanists of Boston University applied for inclusion in the Religious Life Council on campus, they were rejected. And can you really be interfaith when “none of the above” isn’t even an option on the menu?



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Center For Inquiry Relaunches Program to Send Atheist Books to Prisoners

Nearly a decade ago, Reed College student Leslie Zukor began a fascinating project. She knew that most prison libraries were full of religious books, often donated by church groups, and she wanted to offer prisoners an alternative. So she contacted a number of atheist authors, many of whom donated their books to the cause, and began sending boxes of freethought books to prisons across the country:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Leslie Zukor surrounded by donated freethought books[/caption]

To say the project was a success would be an understatement. For many prisoners used to reading the Bible and books about Jesus because there were just no other options, it was a breath of fresh to get their hands on something like The God Delusion. Ultimately, before the project slowed down due to things like ever-increasing shipping costs, Zukor said she had sent out approximately 1,650 books to a variety of prison-donating organizations across the country.

Today, it thrills me to announce that the Center for Inquiry is resurrecting the program and also coordinating a pen-pal program between inmates and volunteers:

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Help Support a Free Student-Run Atheist Conference in Columbia, Missouri

Next Spring, the University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics (SASHA) will be hosting a free conference at the Columbia campus called SashaCon 2014:

I’m looking forward to speaking there — it’s always nice to be part of a student-run event!

They could use some help with funding, though. If you support these kinds of events, consider chipping in on their Indiegogo page! They need to raise about $3,000 and they have limited time in which to do it.

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A Beautiful Counterprotest

(via @SecularStudents and the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Secular Humanists group)

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