Stockton (CA) Mayor Holds Meetings in Church to Save Money, but Atheists Found a Free Alternative

Several days ago, I posted about how the city of Stockton, California held a prayer rally after a local tragedy. Mayor Anthony Silva promoted that rally on the city’s website and Facebook page, and also city resources to host the event. Finally, he gave God a “key to the city“:

This wasn’t the first time Silva had promoted religion while on the job. He also “organized Town Hall meetings, co-sponsored by Christian organizations, at Calvary First Assembly of God and at Christian Life Center.” And he told reporters that the locations wouldn’t change:

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The Ascent of Donald Trump Proves That Christianity Isn’t Becoming More Progressive

Anytime Christians make the news for doing or saying something patently awful (see: Westboro Baptist Church, Kim Davis, recent outcry over Syrian refugees, etc.), so-called progressive evangelical leaders publicly and loudly proclaim that those engaging in the behavior are not representative of the Christian faith.

Anytime the bloody history of Christianity is laid bare in black, white, and crimson, there is an indignant cry of, “That’s in the past! Things are different now!” Anytime some of the more disturbing elements of the Bible are pointed out to mainstream Christians, they insist that their faith looks different — that it’s one of compassion, forgiveness, and selflessness.

They’re not all wrong. There are certainly Christians who practice their faith in this manner; we’ve all met some of them at some point in our lives. They give charitably, they love unconditionally, and they stand up to those who fail to do the same in their own lives. I have no doubt that these generally good-hearted Christians believe that they are part of the majority.

Unfortunately, they’re wrong.

It’s not that the majority of the American Christian population is actively stoning adulterers or trading their daughters for goats. It’s that despite this insistence that the Christian faith revolves around the ideas of love and charity and an individual commitment to walking the walk in their day-to-day lives, the majority of American Christians continue to support leaders whose beliefs and policies stand in stark contrast to the purported foundation of this “new and improved” Christianity — leaders whose actions and rhetoric have a direct, measurable, and profound impact on those marginalized by society. You know, those same folks Christ told his followers to embrace.

This hypocrisy is visible throughout history, at all levels of government, and along all party lines. In some cases, folks attempt to pseudo-excuse such behavior as a “byproduct of the times.” In others, you’ll hear people use a person’s age and presumed inability to change in their twilight years to excuse the continued embrace of what is a religiously shaped, archaic, and widely condemned worldview. Still others apologetically excuse the contemptuous actions and words of their contemporaries by saying “they were just raised that way.” None of these excuses actually excuse anything, obviously, but that doesn’t stop people from using them.

Except now, over the passionate objections of those attempting to defend their faith, the majority of American Christians aren’t even attempting to make excuses. They’re throwing their support behind racist, sexist, classist, and heartless leaders without shame or caveat. To be fair, that description might apply to a large number of Republican-elected officials and candidates, but this deplorable support becomes crystal clear when dissecting the rapid ascent of The Donald.

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Three-Year-Old Girl Schools Ellen DeGeneres on the Periodic Table of Elements

We may have just found the next great science communicator.

Three-year-old Brielle appeared on The Ellen Show yesterday to show off her thorough knowledge of the periodic table of elements, which she first started learning about six months ago. As if that weren’t enough to make most adults feel inadequate, she also knows all the states and their capitals, the countries in Europe and Africa, and the Presidents.

She’s really stinkin’ cute, too.

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Satanists Thank Christian Legal Group for Paving the Way for Their Own Success

If you think about what the Satanic Temple has accomplished recently, it’s impressive for any group, much less one you didn’t even know existed before 2013.

They pressured Oklahoma to reconsider a Ten Commandments monument at its State Capitol building because they wanted a statue of Baphomet in the same space. (The Christian monument was eventually deemed illegal, anyway.) They got a Florida school district to ban Bible distributions because they wanted to give away Satanic-themed coloring books. They got a Satanic display in the Florida State Capitol building to join the Nativity scene last winter. And, perhaps most significantly, they sued the Governor of Missouri on behalf of a member who didn’t want to wait for the 72-hour mandatory waiting period to pass before she could obtain an abortion. She used the argument that waiting so long violated her “religious freedom.”

It’s easy to forget that the Satanic Temple doesn’t actually believe in anything supernatural, including Satan. Yet they’ve forced government officials to recognize that if they want to grant privileges to the Christian majority by saying the door is open to all religions, they may have to treat Satanists the same way. It’s an argument that doesn’t always work with atheist groups who explicitly reject God.

Valerie Tarico, writing at Salon, spoke with the group’s leader Lucien Greaves about their activism, and he makes some excellent points:

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Christians on Twitter Are Complaining About Today’s Evolution Google Doodle

If you’ve been on Google today, then you’ve seen the doodle marking the 41st anniversary of the discovery of Lucy, a set of fossils that helped us understand our species’ own origins:

As predicted yesterday, some Christians on Twitter are already complaining about how this is some sort of assault on their faith:

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