Rapid City (South Dakota) Leaders Vote to Keep Religious Invocations at Meetings

I’ve spent a lot of time on this site talking about Rapid City, South Dakota, where the City Council begins meetings with an invocation delivered by a “local minister.“ FFRF has sent them warnings about it, but they haven’t stopped.

Most recently, they told a college-aged church/state activist that he was “too young to have wisdom.”

Now, the Wise Men on the council have voted to keep their invocations, because, you know… tradition!

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Turkish Atheist Fazil Say Sentenced for Blasphemy for His Offensive Tweets

Months ago we brought you the story of Fazil Say, a world-renowned pianist who was to be prosecuted for the “crime” of tweeting jokes about Islam.

Despite protests both within and outside Turkey, the prosecution went ahead and declared Say guilty of “insulting religious values of a part of the population,” giving him a 10-month jail sentence. Thankfully, it is a suspended sentence, so Say will not have to enter prison, but it does mean that if Say commits a similar “crime” within the next five years, he would be ordered to enter prison. (So shut up, or else.)

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Why Should Atheists Be Included in Interfaith Services?

As soon as I posted about today’s Interfaith event in Boston at which atheists were excluded, I knew people would argue that we didn’t belong there, that we shouldn’t have been invited, and we shouldn’t have even tried to get representation there. It’s an interfaith event, so why would we have been included in the first place?

For one, if the President and Governor are attending this event in their official capacities, this should be a secular event, not a religious one. I understand that religion will be invoked by the officials — they’re Christians — but there’s no reason for the event itself to be only for the religious. Even the media is billing this as the “official” memorial service, so the more inclusive, the better.

Also, this is a memorial service for the victims, not a Christmas or Easter service for churchgoers. All of us grieve in different ways. To suggest that the victims were all of one faith — or that the community only mourns them in particular religious ways is ignorant and unfair. Obviously, not every religious group can be represented. But the major groups — Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Jews — will all have a person representing them up on stage. There’s no good reason that a Humanist couldn’t have given a message of hope, loss, and love without invoking God.

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Jesus Christ Will Save You: A Message That Doesn’t Belong in a Public High School Assembly

Members of Mississippi’s Pinelake Baptist Church recently shared the message of finding hope in Jesus Christ. They even played a video to really bring home that message:

In the video, two young men were interviewed who had once led “troubled” lives. To find hope, the men described various behaviors such as turning to drugs, sex, cutting, suicide, and the like. They then explained how turning to Jesus Christ solved their problems and recommended that other people turn to Jesus Christ as well.

Sounds perfectly normal for a church gathering.

The problem is that the gathering took place at Northwest Rankin High School, a public school.

During the school day.

And the principal even made it clear all seniors had to attend the assembly.

Even when students tried to leave the Performing Arts Building so they wouldn’t have to listen to the preaching, “faculty stood near the exit door, preventing students from leaving.”

It’s about as unconstitutional as you can get.

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Today’s ‘Interfaith’ Service in Boston Will Exclude Atheists

According to the program (PDF) for today’s “Interfaith Service” at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, which will be attended by the President and the Governor of Massachusetts, atheists will have no representation there.

Speakers include representatives from the Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. But no Mormons and no Humanists, surprising given the religious makeup of Boston.

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