Arkansas State Representative Who Called Eight-Year-Old Atheist a Fool: ‘I Regret’ the Comment

On Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe signed into law a bill that will force all public school students in the state to observe a 60-second-long “moment” of silence.

It’s a horrible decision, it’s 60 seconds longer than any school needs, it accomplishes nothing that can’t already be done at home, and everyone knows it’s just a way to sneak prayer into public schools.

Earlier this week, I posted a message from state Rep. John Payton to a mother concerned about the effect the legislation would have on her atheist daughter:

As I summarized the message then:

A concerned mother writes to her state representatives urging them not to vote for legislation that will inevitably lead to the bullying of her atheist child… and one of the representatives writes back to say the eight-year-old girl is a fool with a darkened heart for not believing in God.

It’s not just insensitive. It’s a form of bullying from a high-ranking government official. He doesn’t give a damn what the little girl has to deal with at school because she doesn’t believe in his imaginary god.

It’s been a few days, but Payton has finally responded to the posting. A local paper got him to comment on his message (the article is unfortunately behind a paywall):

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200"]Rep. John Payton[/caption]

Arkansas’ bill gained attention outside of the state Monday when the “Friendly Atheist” blog posted an e-mail from one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn, to a mother who had written several lawmakers with concerns about how the legislation would affect her daughter, who does not believe in God.

“Romans 1:19-25 and Psalm 14:1 address your concerns,” Payton wrote in that e-mail, citing two verses that address disbelief. In the New International Version of the Bible, Psalm 14:1 says: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Payton said Tuesday the e-mail was “a sarcastic and unmeasured reply, and I regret making it. But I think they’re using an 8-year-old girl as a pawn.”

More like he regrets his email going public.

But the eight-year-old girl isn’t a pawn. She’s a student who doesn’t believe in God and, because of this useless drawn-out-”moment” of silence, she’s going to have a hard time dealing with her “loving” Christian classmates.

He doesn’t care, though. The bill passed. He’s Christian. He’s thrilled.

For what it’s worth, I had an email conversation with the girl’s mother last night — she told me Rep. Payton hasn’t apologized to her at all, despite only being an email address away.

Class act, that man.

Arkansas State Representative Who Called Eight-Year-Old Atheist a Fool: ‘I Regret’ the Comment

On Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe signed into law a bill that will force all public school students in the state to observe a 60-second-long “moment” of silence.

It’s a horrible decision, it’s 60 seconds longer than any school needs, it accomplishes nothing that can’t already be done at home, and everyone knows it’s just a way to sneak prayer into public schools.

Earlier this week, I posted a message from state Rep. John Payton to a mother concerned about the effect the legislation would have on her atheist daughter:

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Criticism of Islam Is Not ‘Islamophobia’

Sam HarrisThe End of Faith opens with a fictional account of a suicide bomber killing innocent people on a bus with the press of a button. We don’t know much about the bomber… but Harris suggests we do have a good idea of one thing: His faith.

Why is it so easy, then, so trivially easy — you-could-almost-bet-your-life-on-it easy — to guess the young man’s religion?

It’s writing like this, which has only grown stronger over the years, that has led many of Harris’ critics to call him “Islamophobic.” Harris, of course, contends that he’s criticizing faith and dogma, not people — and I agree with him. When I’m reading his books and blog posts, I see a writer who is raising controversial questions and answering them in ways that may not be politically correct, but none of those things are coming from a place of hate. Even when he suggested looking specifically for Muslims (or at least people who look like them) at airport security checkpoints, I didn’t get a sense he was being racist or anti-Islamic. Even if he ended up being way off the mark, his overall suggestion was more tactical and practical than anything racially motivated.

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Young Science Advocate Zack Kopplin Will be a Guest on Real Time with Bill Maher

Zack Kopplin, the 19-year-old leading the charge against the Republican War on Science in his home state of Louisiana, will be a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher tomorrow night:

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Pat Condell: I’m Offended By Islam

Pat Condell explains why he’s offended by Islam:

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Behind the Scenes at Atheist Shoes

Last week, the makers of the Berlin-based Atheist Shoes reported that packages marked with “atheist” packing tape weren’t getting to their American destinations as quickly as packages without the tape.

Before that study came out, eNtR berlin got a sneak preview of the Packing Tape Experiment. They also spent some time behind-the-scenes with the company and you can watch the second video to find out how they operate:

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