Russian Parliament Passes Bills to Punish Those Who Offend ‘Religious Feelings’ or Promote Homosexuality

Russia’s lower house of Parliament this week passed two bills condemned by Amnesty International for stifling fundamental human rights, including the right to free expression.

First off, the State Duma passed a bill outlawing actions perceived as “offending religious feelings.” That’s right: if your behavior offends a person of faith, you could do jail time:

The bill stipulated that “public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed with the goal of offending religious feelings of the faithful” would be punishable with jail terms of up to three years in prison as well as fines of up to AU$9700. … Public desecration of religious objects or books are also punishable by fines of up to AU$6500.

The government won’t hesitate to admit what sparked such a specific bill: the feminist performance group Pussy Riot‘s infamous public performances from last year, which openly denounced the Russian government and landed the band members in jail. Apparently Russia’s still mad about that one:

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The Parable of the Terrible Father

This is a guest post by Kiel Christianson.

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Once there was an extremely wealthy man who had one son. This man’s wealth was seemingly without limits, and his love for his son was said to be boundless. The son’s mother had died in childbirth, so the father was the sole parent and guardian of his son.

The wealthy man promised all his wealth would be endowed to his son, as long as the boy did what he was instructed to do throughout his life. He told the boy to take care of his home, to keep it clean and tidy. The father told him to watch over their neighborhood and help protect his neighbors. He told him to work hard and maintain the integrity and profitability of the family business, from which all their immense wealth derived.

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Religion Doesn’t Make You a Better Person

David Hayward lays to waste the stereotype that you have to believe in God to be good:

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FFRF Loses Challenge to Stop Arizona Day of Prayer… Again

In January of 2012, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in order to stop her from holding another Day of Prayer (PDF).

The FFRF, along with several members from the state, sued on principle — saying that the Day of Prayer was unconstitutional — instead of arguing that it “harmed” any of the plaintiffs… but that may have been their undoing. Last August, a court in Arizona threw out their lawsuit saying the plaintiffs didn’t have “standing” to sue to government:

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Southern Baptists Vote to Cut Ties Over Boy Scouts’ New Policy Allowing in Gay Scouts

Ever since the Boy Scouts of America voted to partially rescind its discriminatory policy and allow gay youth into the organization, things have been rocky between scouting troops and the churches that often sponsor them.

In the latest turn of events, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution Wednesday “expressing its disappointment” in the BSA’s new policy — and throwing their support behind churches that decide to drop their ties to the Boy Scouts as a result:

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