Christian Group, Ignorant of History, Complains That Obama Omitted ‘Under God’ from Gettysburg Address Video

You knew this was coming: The Christian group Liberty Counsel is crying foul after a video of President Obama reciting the Gettysburg Address surfaced without him including the words “Under God” in the speech:

Not only did President Obama snub the ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address today, he ignored and omitted the words “under God” in his rendition of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, filmed by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

Liberty Counsel, of course, isn’t a group that cares about the facts. They just enjoy playing victim even when there’s no controversy in sight.

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Should Atheists Teach Their Children About Santa Claus?

Though I don’t have children, I’ve long assumed that when the time comes, Santa Claus would be a part of their upbringing. I mean, it’s harmless, right? Plus, as Dale McGowan wrote in Parenting Beyond Belief, it’s kind of like training wheels for God:

By allowing our children to participate in the Santa myth and find their own way out of it through skeptical inquiry, we give them a priceless opportunity to see a mass cultural illusion first from the inside, then from the outside. A very casual line of post-Santa questioning can lead kids to recognize how completely we all can snow ourselves if the enticements are attractive enough. Such a lesson, viewed from the top of the hill after exiting a belief system under their own power, can gird kids against the best efforts of the evangelists — and far better than secondhand knowledge could ever hope to do.

Now, Sam Harris makes the case that introducing your children to Santa is harmful. Not because of the connection to religion, but because it exposes you as someone willing to lie to your kids for temporary amusement. (It’s an argument he makes in his book Lying.)

It all stems from a recent Jimmy Kimmel stunt where he asked parents to videotape themselves telling their children they ate all their Halloween candy…:

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Is This Conan O’Brien Joke ‘Racist’?

The Qur’an says Muslim men may take up to four wives. Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, had nine.

Is it Islamophobic — nay, racist — to tell a joke based on those incontrovertible facts?

It seems so. Conan O’Brien got pilloried when he (or, more likely, one of his staffers) tweeted this the other day:

The reaction was swift: “So fucking gross and racist. Good job guys,” responded a seething Twitter user (one of many who’ll probably be surprised when someone clues them in to the fact that Islam is a religion, not a race). Tweeted another: “Real classy bigotry, Conan OBrien. Did you enjoy having a laugh at the expense of the marginalized?”

Two hours later, O’Brien’s tweet was gone.

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A Reminder That the Original Gettysburg Address Did Not Include the Words ‘Under God’

Today marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and you’ll undoubtedly hear revisionist Christian historians talk about how even Lincoln’s address featured the words “Under God”:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate – we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here, have, thus far, so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Just one problem with that. It’s not the original version of the speech.

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Cardinal George’s Sad Attempt at Bashing Illinois Marriage Equality Law

As a newly adopted Illinoisan who is also super gay, I was overjoyed when my favorite state finally passed marriage equality earlier this month. This was long time coming for Illinois, historically one of the nation’s more liberal states, and many legislators and citizens alike were getting antsy and jealous as states around us began passing their own laws at a record pace. When the votes were finally counted, I had no qualms about running tearfully through my workplace to tell everyone the great news that minute.

That’s why it bums me out that, almost immediately, Christian groups started flailing left and right about how terrible same-sex marriage is for Illinois. For one, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield is actually holding an exorcism tomorrow, the day the marriage bill will be signed, as a means of condemning same-sex marriage. So there’s that.

But while some folks might write the bishop off as a little bit extreme, people may just listen to Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, who found it necessary to pen a letter to the state’s Catholics about why marriage equality is so bad. Unfortunately for him, like most pieces of Catholic PR lately, his letter doesn’t actually make much sense. Rather, it proves that now is exactly the right time to pass marriage equality in Illinois and hopefully nationwide.

Let go piece by piece, shall we?

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