Catholic Blogger: Selling Gay People Flowers for a Wedding is Like Selling Bank Robbers a Bag for the Money

Rebecca Hamilton, a fellow Patheos blogger, recently posted about a small business owner in Washington (state) who is being sued for refusing to provide flowers for a wedding.

As you might expect, the only reason she denied the couple in question flowers for their wedding is because they happened to be gay. Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, claimed that she had no problem selling flowers to LGBT people… as long as it’s not for a gay wedding because that would involve “actively participating in something that just about all traditional Christians consider sinful.” As a result, she’s countersuing the state saying that her constitutional rights were violated.

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Help Us Out and Tell Us What You Do!

Every now and then, the writers on this site will be working on a post about, say, Creationism being taught in a high school biology class… and we realize it would be great if we could talk to an atheist who teaches high school biology! Maybe we want to quote you in the post. Or (more likely) we just need to ask you a question about high school science curriculums in general.

It’s not just education — there are many times when we have questions about business or law or medicine or music, but we don’t know anyone in those fields we can talk to.

So we’re trying to compile an online Rolodex of sorts and that’s where we could use your help. If you work in a particular profession (like medicine or law) or have an expertise in some area (like video games), we’d love to be able to get in touch with you in the event that we’re working on a story about that subject.

We created a form for you to fill out. It should only take you a minute to complete, and it’ll allow us to compile a database of contacts that we can use when we need to. (Obviously, we’re not going to post the information you give us anywhere, and we’re not going to contact you unless we really need your input about something.)

Thanks for your help! [Read more...]

Why Don’t We Have More Productive Conversations Online?

A couple of months ago, Robby Bensinger defended Sam Harris against his critics’ charges of Islamophobia and he was still doing it a couple of weeks ago.

But the biggest question he’s left with after all of that back-and-forth is: Why were those conversations so unproductive? He’s intelligent. His opponents are intelligent. So why did it feel like they were talking past each other so much of the time? Why did it feel like both sides were more interested in scoring “points” rather than coming to a better understanding of the other side and (possibly) modifying their own opinions?

(Anyone else feeling déjà vu?)

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Infectious Diseases Strike Communities Where Vaccinations Are ‘Anti-God’

What do Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and evangelical Dutch Christians have in common?

Both group respects their god so much, they won’t do a thing when their kids get — and spread — the measles, and both communities are fighting an outbreak right now.

In the United States,

Another infectious disease is running through the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.  More than 50 children have developed measles this spring — the third or fourth measles problem in the community in the last six years, and following closely on the heels of a mumps outbreak in 2009–10 that affected more than 3,000 people… [T]he cause is quite simple. Kids aren’t getting vaccinated.

And this, from the Netherlands [article in Dutch]:

“God knows what’s good for your child. Vaccination is an expression of one’s lack of trust in Him,” says a Christian mom. …

In the Dutch Bible Belt, the vaccination rate is far below the national average. That makes an outbreak in the region a particularly large risk. Frequently, measles, mumps, and whooping cough emerge and spread at great speed.

If that happens, then everyone is at risk, believers and non-believers alike – at least those who haven’t been vaccinated, and those whose vaccine-related immunity has lessened over time.

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How Do You Start an Atheist Group at Your School?

I’m working on a project with a local professor called The Atheist Voice in which I tackle some burning question people often ask atheists.

The video below answers the question: How Do You Start an Atheist Group at Your School?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more...]


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