Can a Town Run on Catholic Principles Fall in Line with the Constitution?

We already live in a country where religious groups exert a lot of influence in their respective communities. Red states, obviously. Hasidic enclaves, definitely. Even places like Salt Lake City, where Mormons migrated in droves.

But what would happen if a whole town was basically bought out for one religious group and the people there were expected to follow religious law?

That’s the premise of Ave Maria, Florida, a town that was purchased nearly a decade ago by Domino’s Pizza founder (and hard-core Catholic) Tom Monaghan, who wanted to turn it into a religious haven:

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Man Earns $100 at Church After Declaring Himself Cured of Homosexuality in This Cringeworthy Video

As someone who never attended church as a young person, I find that I get a little squirmy when I watch services in general. The more over-the-top they are, the less comfortable I feel.

Needless to say, the following video had me cringing the whole time. It’s from the Church of God in Christ’s 107th Holy Convocation in Memphis and features a young man declaring himself free from homosexuality…

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Friendly Atheist Podcast Episode 28: “Patrick,” an Atheist College Football Player

Our latest podcast guest is “Patrick,” a college football player from one of the top Division 1 programs in the country. He’s not just a guy on the bench; he himself is one of the best players in the country for his position.

And he’s an atheist.

At his request, we’re maintaining his anonymity because he deserves to be recognized for his talent and not his atheism, and we don’t want to ruin that for him. Rest assured, though, we know his real name and we’ve verified that he is who he says he is. We wanted to talk to him about faith, football, and his future.

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Sean Faircloth, Former Head of the Secular Coalition for America, Wins Seat on Bangor (Maine) City Council

At one point, before he became the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America in 2009 (a position he held for two years), Sean Faircloth (below) was a state legislator from Maine, serving five terms in the House (1992-1994; 2002-2008) and Senate (1994-1996).

In the years after leaving the SCA, he worked as Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, where he was frequently the “opening act” for Dawkins’ lectures, and wrote a book called Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All — and What We Can Do about It.

Last week, he stepped back into the political world, earning a seat on the nine-member Bangor City Council.

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All Around Us, Placebo Buttons and “Deceptive Technology” Prove That We’re Not So Different From Pavlov’s Dog

Have you ever danced to make it rain? Wore garlic around your neck to stave off vampires? Sacrificed a virgin to persuade the sun to come up?

I’d venture that you never did any such thing. But if you’re anything like me, when you’re a pedestrian in a city, you do press the crosswalk button to make the light turn green, which it eventually does. Every time that happens, you and I and almost everyone else are being conditioned, Pavlov‘s-dog-style, to do it again the next time we cross the street.

Now consider this: there’s a high likelihood — probably something like 8 or 9 out of 10 — that the button either never worked to begin with or has been disabled in recent years thanks to fully-automated traffic control systems taking over.

Yet we press on (ha).

The same is true for the “close the doors” button on today’s elevators. In most cases, these buttons do absolutely nothing but give us an illusion of control. As the doors eventually always do close, our brains necessarily receive a happy jolt of confirmation that our action was successful. That’s all the reward we need to keep pressing those almost certainly non-functional buttons in the future.

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