Why an Atheist Group Should Accept the White House’s Invitation to a Faith-Based Gathering

We learned on Wednesday that the Obama administration extended an invitation to the Secular Student Alliance to an upcoming “Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge” planning meeting:

“We’re honored to be included in the President’s call for interfaith and community service,” said Jesse Galef, spokesperson for the Secular Student Alliance. “There are thousands of nonreligious students eager to work alongside their religious friends to make the world a better place.”

“From the beginning, President Obama has envisioned students from all worldviews, religious or secular, being part of his Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge,” said Ken Bedell, Senior Advisor with the Department of Education’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Center. “We know it’s important to include all viewpoints in this process.”

Exciting news… unless you’re Tom Flynn, Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism, and you think the SSA should have rejected the offer on principle:

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A Turkish Imam Is Under Investigation and Could Be Fired For Singing in a Rock Band

42-year-old Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer is a Turkish imam who likes rock music. In his spare time, he sings in a band, and it isn’t exactly death metal – more like the Islamic equivalent of Christian rock, and more pap pop than rock at that:

Mr Tüzer … is planning to bring out an album with his band next month. One song is titled Mevlaya gel, or Come to God. “I want to celebrate Allah in every place,” he told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency. “I don’t think I have caused the slightest damage to my institution.”

But the Turkish government — officially secular, but deeply entangled with Islam — recently launched an investigation against Tüzer, because being an imam “is not just like any other job,” a spokesman explained. “Things that are viewed as normal when it comes to other civil servants are viewed differently with respect to imams.”

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‘Religious Liberty’ Bill Would Legalize Discrimination, Protect Anti-Gay Federal Officials

LGBT activists are up in arms – and rightfully so — after the introduction of a bill that would provide a legal loophole for anti-gay discrimination.

Idaho Republican Raul Labrador proposed a bill to the House of Representatives this week that serves no other purpose but to protect federal officials who seek to discriminate against LGBT people, particularly same-sex couples. It’s called the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” and it was inspired by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Apparently, Labrador and others identified an “immediate need” to advocate for religious groups who believe they were deeply wronged by DOMA’s partial repeal.

After the court’s decision, “there were a lot of ideas about what to do,” Labrador said. “Some people looked at overturning it, or doing a constitutional amendment. I looked at the immediate need, which is the protection of religious institutions and churches, so that they can continue practicing their religion as they see fit.”

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Article Notes How Dozens of Public High School Football Coaches in the South Think Proselytizing is Part of Practice

In a frightening-yet-not-at-all-shocking article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press today, Stephen Hargis reports that the number of football coaches who think preaching Christianity is part of the game plan isn’t just a single individual or even a handful of people. The problem is much worse than that:

Responding to a Times Free Press survey, 32 coaches who work in public schools in Tennessee, Georgia or Alabama professed to be Christian; all said they endorse some form of team prayer. Those coaches said they consider the increased activity by the Wisconsin-based foundation a violation of their religious rights and of their ability to mold the boys on their team into moral young men.

“We as coaches fail if we only teach football, so we try to set an example of how a Christian man handles any situation,” Ridgeland High coach Mark Mariakis said. “I want the kids to remember that example more than anything they learn on the football field.”

If that name is familiar, it’s because Mariakis is the coach from Georgia who led his team in prayer before and after games:

Mariakis notes that the only thing that has changed since last year is that he has stopped leading the team prayers. Now, he lets the students do it. (Are they the captains? I don’t know, but I’m guessing that’s probably the case since he calls them the team “leaders,” which makes the prayers all the more coercive to the rest of the team.)

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Christian Writer Argues Against Disabled People Having Sexual Surrogates Because, You Know, Jesus

In the 2012 movie The Sessions, a poet who has never had sex due to his polio gets in touch with a sexual surrogate who helps him lose his virginity (and they develop feelings for each other and *cue conflict*).

I find it hard to fault what the poet did. For people with serious physical or mental disabilities, finding someone to have sex with isn’t always easy (hush with your jokes), so the idea of a surrogate makes sense to me. What a cruel life it would be to go without one of its great pleasures, especially when you didn’t choose that life for yourself. Who would deny anyone that form of happiness if they wanted it and weren’t hurting anybody in the process?

Ashley Moore would.

Writing at Christianity Today‘s her.meneutics blog, Moore says that such a person would be better off sexless for life.

Because sex should only be between a married man and woman.

Because… Jesus.

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