Despite Silent Protests, Bill Maher Encourages Berkeley Graduates to Be Freethinkers and “Fight Oppression”

A couple of months ago, we learned that comedian Bill Maher was invited to deliver the commencement address at University of California, Berkeley’s winter graduation ceremony.

The problem was that students were petitioning to stop him from speaking there:

Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment. Bill Maher’s public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities. Too many students are marginalized by his remarks and if the University were to bring this individual as a commencement speaker they would not be supporting these historically marginalized communities.

It was a pointless effort from the start. Maher’s job is to share his opinions and make jokes about touchy subjects. As far as opinion-leaders go, his biggest liability is that he talks about topics (like religion) most people want to avoid at all costs. While the bigotry charge was over-the-top, the racism charge was just baseless.

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More New York Fire Departments Are Now Wishing Jesus a Happy Birthday

People always argue that groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation go after “petty” church/state separation cases, and they should just let some things slide.

Like New York’s Utica Fire Department Station 4 with a “Happy Birthday Jesus” sign outside its building. What’s the harm, right?

Well, not only are they selling shirts promoting Christianity, other fire departments are now following their lead, like the Whitesboro Fire Department (also in NY):

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Rev. Franklin Graham: Christians Whose Lives Are in ISIS’ Hands Should Choose Martyrdom Over Lip-Service to Islam

Evangelical Christian Reverend Franklin Graham was on Fox News’ The Kelly File recently and the discussion revolved around a topic cherished at Fox: Christian persecution. But not the usual December horrors, like “my grocer said ‘Happy Holidays!” Instead, while Graham and Megan Kelly were sparse on specifics, they referenced some real examples of Christians in [Read More…]

Headstone Makers in New Jersey Score Victory Against Church-Based Competitors Who Are Tax-Exempt

New Jersey headstone-making companies have won a battle against the Newark Archdiocese over the latter’s hawking of gravesite monuments.

John Burns, a born-and-raised-Catholic owner of a monuments company in North Arlington, NJ, was appalled that the diocese began offering mausoleums and tombstones last year. He argued that the tax-exempt status of the padres gives them an unfair advantage, so he and his colleagues have been trying to get the state to stop the Catholic expansion.

Quoted in the New York Times,

Mr. Burns, 54, said the fight was “hard because it’s the church.” “Where in my life did I ever think I’d go to my state legislator and ask for legislation against the church to keep my livelihood?” he said in an interview. “It’s a shame.” …

Wilson Beebe, the executive director of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, said the archdiocese had captured 25 percent of the Catholic monument market in less than 18 months, and predicted that its share would increase to as much as 50 percent in a couple of years. “They’re carrying on essentially a for-profit enterprise,” he said. “Given their income- and property-tax exempt status, there’s no way that the monument builders can compete with them.”

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Gay Christian Teen Takes Her Own Life, Fearing Her Parents Wouldn’t Accept Her If She Came Out

A 14-year-old girl in Manchester, England has taken her own life because she couldn’t bear to come out to her devout Christian parents as gay — though they say they would have welcomed her with open arms.

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lowe (below) was recently found hanged at a local park, according to the U.K. news site The Telegraph. Her friends say that she was questioning whether she might be a lesbian and was having trouble reconciling her sexuality with her strong Christian upbringing and her own faith.

Her parents, however, have said that her coming out would not have been a surprise, and that she would have been met with “a wealth of love and acceptance.”

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