Watch the Oral Arguments from the Massachusetts Pledge of Allegiance Case

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A case argued in front of a high court. The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t allow cameras, but the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court does, and so we have video of Tuesday’s argument to pull the Pledge of Allegiance from public school classrooms because they are discriminatory against atheist students:

David Niose, who represented the plaintiffs is the first speaker in that video. The judges grilled him but he responded to each argument well. The judges asked even tougher questions, it seemed to me, of the other side.

Lisa Redmond of the Lowell Sun summarized his portion of the arguments this way:

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It All Happened Because We Took God Out of Our Schools

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The Wrong Advice to Give to a Mother Whose Children Are Subject to Proselytizing in School

In a recent Slate column, Emily Yoffe offers far-too-cautious advice for a mother whose child is dealing with religious proselytization in the classroom.

Here’s the setup:

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Because You Can Never Have Too Many White People in Your Church…

Makeda Pennycooke, executive pastor of operations at Freedom House Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, sent an email to church members this week introducing a new policy regarding which people she wanted to welcome newcomers at the front door.

White people.

Only white people.”

Carmen Thomas, a volunteer at the church for two years, couldn’t believe it:

“I was floored. Like it was a jaw dropper. You can put a white face all over the front door. But when you come through those doors, you’re going to see African Americans, you’re gonna see Asians. You’re going to see people of color.”

The justification for Pennycooke’s new policy was that “first impressions matter.” Her email explained that she wanted “the best of the best on the front doors.”

Apparently the non-white parishioners didn’t make that cut. One has to wonder if skin color was the only criteria for being “the best.” What about attendance levels? Volunteer frequency? Personality traits?

Complicating this story even more is the fact that Pennycooke herself is black.

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Bar Mitzvahs Could Use a Makeover

In yesterday’s New York Times, Laurie Goodstein had an interesting article about how bar/bat mitzvahs were getting a “new look” of sorts because — can you believe it?! — a lot of young Jews would just go through the motions without really caring much about the teachings of the faith:

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