If You’d Like to Hear Me Speak…

Over the next few weekends, I’ll be giving some talks in the midwest. All the details are below!

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South Carolina’s Official State Fossil Represents an Animal ‘Created on the Sixth Day,’ Says Amendment to the Bill

I thought this story was over. It’s clearly not.

A quick recap: Earlier this year, a third grader wrote to her state representatives asking them to make the Wooly Mammoth South Carolina’s official state fossil.

After a couple of holdups, it looked like there were no objections and the bill would go through… but the version of the bill that looks like it’ll be signed into law contains a ridiculous amendment:

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New Policy in Italy: Catholic Bishops Are Not Obligated to Report Child Sexual Abuse

With the Vatican’s blessing — pun intended — Italy’s bishops have adopted a new policy pertaining to their obligations to report child molestation to the police.

Specifically, the policy advises that bishops have no official obligation to report the sexual abuse of children to any legal authorities outside of the Catholic Church.

According to the Italian Bishops’ Conference, these new guidelines reflect directives from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the very same Vatican office responsible for investigating cases of sexual abuse (allegedly) perpetrated by priests. Rather than requiring all abusers to confront the criminal justice system, these guidelines call on bishops to consider their “moral duty to contribute to the common good,” as they understand it, in deciding how to approach a given case. This allows plenty of leeway for bishops to make the exact same moral calculation that inspired sex-abuse cover-ups in the first place: better to see a few abusers go unpunished than to blemish the reputation of Holy Mother Church.

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Muslim Parents Rightfully Upset When Church’s Flyers Are Distributed at Dearborn Elementary Schools

Normally, when we hear about Christian groups pushing faith in public schools, it’s always atheists who push back against it. So I’m glad to finally see Muslim parents complaining about an Easter event flyer (not the image below) sent home with their elementary school children in Detroit:

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For Reasons That Make No Sense At All, an Appeals Court Has Upheld NYC’s Ban on Worship Services in Public Schools

In 1994, the Bronx Household of Faith (an urban church) filled out an application to rent out space at a New York City public school for its Sunday morning services. Their application was rejected because of something now known as “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP) §5.11.

No outside organization or group may be allowed to conduct religious services or religious instruction on school premises after school. However, the use of school premises by outside organizations or groups after school for the purpose of discussing religious material or material which contains a religious viewpoint or for distributing such material is permissible.

So it was okay for groups to rent out the space to teach kids about religion… but if it became too church-like, that was a no-no? (What was the difference? Saying “Amen”?)

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