The Reason Some College Atheist Groups Have a Second Facebook Page

In Jennifer Kline‘s article about college atheist groups, this passage is just incredible:

Ethan Conklin, director of outreach for the University of Central Florida’s Secular Student Alliance (SSA), has seen his share of “really messed-up situations,” he says. “We have members whose families don’t talk to them anymore, friends who isolated them. All because of that one word: ‘atheist.’”

Consequently, many students seeking like-minded friends are hesitant to openly reveal their involvement in SSA. The club has a public Facebook page but recently created a second group, which is private and visible only to approved members. Conklin explained that several members feel uncomfortable sharing their interest in a secular club with their families, friends or workplaces. The secret page allows those people to remain connected without the publicity of a “like.”

They have a second Facebook group just for the people who can’t publicly “like” something about atheism?!

How depressing is that. (Does the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ever have this problem?)

Maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised, though, since even the Secular Student Alliance makes it very clear in their national conference booklet that we should all be aware that there are students who may not wanted to be “outed”:

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FFRF Responds After Getting Blamed for Mingus Park Cross Explosion

Late last week, there was a small explosion near the Mingus Park Vietnam War Memorial cross in Coos Bay, Oregon. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the cross was slightly damaged.

As I wrote over the weekend, atheists were getting blamed for the crime. Specifically, a Christian leader was blaming the Freedom From Religion Foundation for “fomenting hatred” because they had challenged the constitutionality of the cross on public property.

Today, FFRF released this statement about the cross explosion:

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In Praise of Catfish: The TV Show

Ask any group of skeptics what their favorite TV show is and I guarantee you Mythbusters will be in the mix 97% of the time. There’s good reason for that: The hosts are entertaining and the show finds amusing ways to test extraordinary claims with the power of science. (Also: explosions.) Other shows on the Favorites list include Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, The Big Bang Theory, and the upcoming reboot of Cosmos (sight unseen).

What I haven’t heard from the skeptic community over the past year is any mention of Catfish: The TV Show. I don’t know why. Because it’s MTV? Because it’s a pseudo-reality show? Because it’s not “science”? Who knows. But this should be right up there in our pantheon of shows that extol the virtues of skepticism.

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After Atheist Writes Book, a Christian Formatter May Have Added in His Own Links

When an atheist author looked over the chapter titles in his new book, it appeared that the person who formatted the book had quietly responded to the content in a way you could only see if you hovered your mouse over the chapter name…

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Is Atheism a Religion? That Question’s at the Heart of a Lawsuit Over Housing Credits for ‘Ministers of the Gospel’

For a couple of years now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in a legal battle to end the “parish exemption” that allows ministers to deduct the cost of their mortgage/utilities/parking/furnishings from their taxable income. FFRF argues that this shows preferential treatment for religious leaders.

In fact, FFRF’s own board has paid its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor $15,000 each as part of their housing allowance, but because they don’t qualify as “ministers of the gospel,” they’re arguing that the law doesn’t apply to them and, therefore, it’s illegal. (For what it’s worth, they didn’t try to obtain the exemption and get rejected; they’re simply speaking on principle.)

In a recent twist to the case, the U.S. Department of Justice is arguing that atheism is a religion, so Barker and Gaylor should be able to qualify for the exemption:

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