Atheist Delivering Invocation Praises Glendale (Arizona) City Council for Creating Change “Without Supernaturalism”

Atheist Brooke Mulder delivered an invocation at yesterday’s meeting of the Glendale City Council in Arizona:

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Indonesian Supreme Court Upholds Alexander Aan’s Jail Sentence on Charges of Blasphemy

Alexander Aan, you may recall, is the Indonesian atheist who spent 19 months in jail for promoting atheism online (his original sentence was 30 months). He was hit with a blasphemy charge and put away so he could do no further “damage.”

Even though he’s out of prison now, the Jakarta Post reports that, yesterday, the Indonesian Supreme Court deemed his sentence appropriate:

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Ask Richard: British Teen Atheist Enduring Muslim Exorcisms

Note: I have altered a few details of this letter to better conceal the writer’s identity, because safety is of concern. The gist of the situation remains the same.

Dear Richard,

I come from an incredibly strict Muslim household, I am a teenager and living in the UK, and I am an atheist. My mum believes that our entire family is ‘possessed’ by ‘jinns’ (devils). She has previously sent us all to a Muslim version of a priest who basically performed an exorcism, only with the Quran instead of the Bible, and he pressed “pressure points” which left my sister and mum with large bruises.

It was very disturbing. My mum and siblings believe it all, and so the “devils” supposedly “speak through them,” even though I know that it is probably their minds creating these alternate personas after being put through a physically and emotionally terrible situation.

The sessions were a frequent thing last year. I thought she forgot about it all, but now she’s saying that she will send me to this ‘retreat’ lasting a few days, where they will do what I described above as well as forcing me to do other Islamic rituals. I think that it’s supposed to start very soon, not sure because she only revealed she was going to send me when she was angry and shouting at me. I really don’t want to go. What can I do to make her not send me?

Thanks for your time and help,
More Than Just A Little Scared

My dear young friend,

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P.Z. Myers is (Surprise!) Unmoved By Suicide of “Wealthy White” Robin Williams

I’m not exactly Mr. Sunshine, so you might think the curmudgeonly grousing of atheist blogger P.Z. Myers would resonate with me.

It rarely does, and yesterday I was reminded why. In writing about the suicide of comedian Robin WilliamsMyers went from prickly to prickish in three seconds flat. Under the telling headline Robin Williams Brings Joy to the Hearts of Journalists and Politicians Once Again, Myers sneered that

[Williams'] sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people.

Myers was referring to the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, this past weekend.

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South Carolina Board of Education Will Meet Today to Vote on Anti-Evolution Science Standards

We know South Carolina has a serious education problem.

This is the state where one candidate for Superintendent of Education didn’t know what the science standards were while another openly promoted Intelligent Design. It’s the place where a bill to make the Wooly Mammoth the official state fossil was laden with Bible verses.

In June, there was an attempt to revise the science education standards to weaken the concept of evolution:

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