This Pastor’s in Trouble with His Church for Supporting the LGBT Community but Atheists Are Coming to His Defense

Last week, for a local newspaper, Rev. Seth Pickens wrote a brief list of reasons he supports the LGBT community:

2. Some want to get married, and some don’t; go figure. They also bleed red if you cut them.

3. With the bullying and hate many face, they qualify as an oppressed people. Christians support oppressed people.

7. Homosexual behavior is documented in many species of animals; maybe some are just born that way.

8. As much respect as I have for the soul of animals, I have even more respect for human beings.

I have a couple of complaints about the list, but on the whole, it’s quite a breath of fresh air compared to what we usually see from pastors. Yet that simple list got him in a lot of trouble with his church community. (It probably didn’t help matters that he performed a wedding ceremony for a lesbian couple last year.)

At Religion Dispatches, Sikivu Hutchinson tells the story of why she and some of her atheist friends are supporting him as he goes through this ordeal at church:

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AC Grayling’s The God Argument is Now Available in Paperback

In case you haven’t read it yet, philosopher AC Grayling‘s book The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism is available in paperback beginning today:



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New Jersey Catholics Start Sending Empty Donation Envelopes After Learning of Archbishop’s Lavish 7,500 Sq. Ft. Pad

When news of Archbishop John J. Myers‘ extravagant weekend and vacation home leaked out last month — renovations include a 3,000 square feet addition and a second pool — many Catholics in the Newark Archdiocese were disgusted.

Now, some are saying they will no longer contribute to the archdiocese, at least for now. But rather than withholding their contribution in silence, they’ve hit upon a pretty neat grassroots idea to stress their displeasure in a way that the padres will notice. They’re still be sending in the customary donation envelopes, but the envelopes will contain… nothing.



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California Farmers Must Be Really Desperate if They’re Resorting to This

I understand that California’s going through a dry season right now… but this is not the way to solve the problem:

The nation’s fourth-largest wine maker, Bronco Wine Co., says it uses dowsers on its 40,000 acres of California vineyards, and dozens of smaller farmers and homeowners looking for wells on their property also pay for dowsers. Nationwide, the American Society of Dowsers, Inc. boasts dozens of local chapters, which meet annually at a conference.

“It’s kind of bizarre. Scientists don’t believe in it, but I do and most of the farmers in the Valley do,” said Marc Mondavi, a vineyard owner whose family has been growing grapes and making wine since the mid-20th century in the Napa Valley.

Dowsers are “magical” tools that use “natural energy” to find water and minerals. You basically dig where you think the dowser is telling you to dig… you ignore all the times when there’s nothing below and count the successes as a miracle. Often, the dowser “tells” you to dig precisely where you’d expect water to be found — who’d have guessed?!

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This Is the Real Reason an Atheist Club Isn’t Forming at Pisgah High School

I spent most of Friday afternoon speaking to multiple people involved with the Pisgah High School saga and you won’t believe what’s happening there now… I thought the story ended after I wrote my last post about it, but there’s so much more to it. And it’s nasty stuff.

First, a quick recap:

Earlier this year, student Ben Wilson attempted to begin an atheist group at the Canton, North Carolina school and claimed a school official told him he should just try joining a different club because this one wouldn’t “fit in” with the community. The Secular Student Alliance sent a letter to the school on his behalf, stating that the school had to allow the group to form, but no response was sent back.

Ben left the school after first semester, so his sister Kalei (pronounced KAY-lee) decided to continue what he started… and she was also denied. That’s when the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the state’s ACLU got involved, sending a letter of their own. The school quickly agreed to allow the club to form after that.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300"]Kalei Wilson[/caption]

Almost immediately, students expressed interest in joining the club and two faculty members offered to be the club’s sponsors.

But Kalei made it clear last week that the club would not be forming after a series of threats and verbal attacks.

That gets us up to speed. As I said, I thought the story ended there. It wasn’t a happy ending but I couldn’t blame Kalei for her decision. If I were receiving threats and feeling picked on at school, I’d probably do the same thing. But I had to admit it was an abrupt 180 from a student who had already shown an incredible amount of courage…

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