Tag Archives: Atheism

Atheists stage festival for anti-religion films

FROM WND

‘Evolution: The Musical,’ rants by George Carlin, Woody Allen

What is being billed as the first-ever Atheist Film Festival and featuring a large number of films that largely address religion will be held in San Francisco Sunday – and it lumps Jesus along with Zeno, Flying Saucers, The Flying Spaghetti Monster and Eden.

The event in San Francisco’s Mission District is being held in two rooms at the Roxie Theater starting at noon and running to midnight.

Among the features will be “Root of all Evil?” in which famed British atheist Richard Dawkins issues a warning about how faith is “gaining ground in the face of rational, scientific truth.”

Events are being sponsored, among others, by the San Francisco Atheists, who report they, “do not believe in gods, devils, angels, ghosts, or other imaginary creatures.’

According to their website, they “want to live natural, religion-free lives … respect science and learning, knowing that only human thought, effort and courage will bring individual freedom and cultural progress.”

Also featured will be “Pledge of Allegiance Blues,” telling the story of Michael Newdow, who challenged the inclusion of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegience all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he was rebuffed.

The film festival describes his efforts as a battle “to protect the separation between church and state.”

Also on the fare will be a musical called, “Evolution: The Musical, “Heathen Wind,” “Audience of One,” and others, including “rants” by George Carlin, Monty Python and Woody Allen.

Dawkins’ work “takes you to some of the world’s religious hot-spots, both in America and the Middle East. Dawkins meets with religious leaders and their followers, as well as scientists and skeptics to examine the power of religion.”

The Evolution musical is described as “a cross between Hair and the Rocky Horror Picture Show with some Gospel thrown in.”

Ray Comfort is the Christian author whose book “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think” book bumped Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” on Amazon.com’s best-seller list when it was released.

Comfort, who works with Living Waters ministry and has argued against atheism at Yale University, debated the issue on ABC’s Nightline and has authored some 60 other books, including “God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists,” “How to Know God Exists” and “Evolution: the Fairy Tale for Grownups,” has told WND it’s atheism, not faith, that lacks a foundation in reality.

“I simply expose atheistic evolution for the unscientific fairy tale that it is, and I do it with common logic. I ask questions about where the female came from for each species. Every male dog, cat, horse, elephant, giraffe, fish and bird had to have coincidentally evolved with a female alongside it (over billions of years) with fully evolved compatible reproductive parts and a desire to mate, otherwise the species couldn’t keep going. Evolution has no explanation for the female for every species in creation,” he previously told WND.

“I also show that the ‘God’ issue is moral rather than intellectual. No one needs to prove that God exists. Creation is clear evidence for any sane person that there’s a Creator. But if I can convince myself that there is no God, it means I am not morally accountable, and evolution opens the door to a whole lot of sinful delicacies such as pornography, fornication, lying, theft, and of course writing bad reviews for a book I haven’t read,” he continued.

He said the logical problem that follows atheists, though, is that once they convince themselves God doesn’t exist, they are left with the “insane” philosophy that nothing created everything.

“They will deny that through gritted teeth because it is intellectually embarrassing, but if I say that I have no belief that my Ford Truck had a maker, it means I think that nothing made it, and that’s a scientific impossibility,” Comfort said.

WND reported when Comfort challenged Dawkins to a debate over God’s existence, but Dawkins snubbed offers of both $10,000 and $20,000.

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Bill Clinton joins drumbeat for ‘Fairness Doctrine’

FROM WND

‘What I think we need to do is have more balance in the programs’

Former president and senior Democratic statesman Bill Clinton has joined a growing drumbeat for government regulation of radio talk shows, claiming the U.S. “ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side.”

WND reported earlier this week when Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, became the second U.S. senator in a week to endorse a return to the ideas behind the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” a policy abandoned under President Reagan in 1987 as unnecessary and unconstitutional.

The policy, originally introduced in 1949, required that radio and television stations with a broadcast license air contrasting views on matters of public importance. The policy made it practically impossible for talk radio to make a profit, because the market would not bear a lineup with an equal number of programs from the left and right. Since the Fairness Doctrine was abandoned, more than 2,000 radio stations – the vast majority identifed as politically conservative – have adopted a talk radio format.

WND also reported when Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told WND columnist Bill Press, “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves.”

Clinton’s comments arrived via an interview on the Mario Solis Marich show, which has posted an audio recording of the former president’s statements.

Michael Calderone at Politico.com also posted the audio.

“Essentially, because there’s always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and, let’s face it, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he’s saying things I think are ridiculous,” Clinton said. “I think the American people know now that we’re in a very serious time. We all need to be questioned. The president, I’m sure, would be the first to admit none of us are right all the time and everything should be debated.”

Tell your government no to the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Sign WND’s Petition to Block Congressional Attacks on Freedom of Speech and Press now!

“With the future of the country hanging in the balance, we shouldn’t be playing petty politics or just going for entertainment,” he said. “What I think we need to do is have more balance in the programs, or have some opportunity for people to offer countervailing opinions,” he said.

“When the Fairness Doctrine was done away with I was not in favor of doing away with it,” Clinton said. “I never minded having somebody be heard who disagreed with me.”

A member of the U.S. House also has weighed in on the issue. At RealClearPolitics.com, a recording has been posted with Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., endorsing the idea.

“I think the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated. The idea of fairness in the media is very important,” he said. “We should have a fair and open system.”

Hinchey said his main focus “as far as the media is concerned” is to “open the process up, and make it more open, more reasonable, more fair, and providing a larger diversity of information so that people can make decisions for themselves.”

Participants on Calderone’s forum warned of the consequences of government regulation of talk shows.

“For all the tirades about Bush as a ‘dictator,’ he never did anything [t]o abridge free speech. Anyone who supports this type of legislation restricting speech is following the true path to tyranny,” said one.

“Conservative Talk Radio is Balance,” added another.

Said a third, “I have no problem with more balance. Just do not legislative it. Get your checkbook out Bill and get it going just the same as Rush did. What could be more fair?”

“There are some liberals in the media that insist the fear of a return of the Censorship Doctrine is an imaginary one that exists only in the heads of paranoid conservative,” commented L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, when Harkin made his statements. “Meanwhile, one liberal leader after another publicly states his or her intent to bring it back.”

WND has previously reported other Democratic legislators have tried to claim talk about a reintroduction of the “Fairness Doctrine” is merely conspiracy-mongering by right-wing talk radio and its partisan cheerleaders.

But other Democrats in the Senate and House – and even a few Republicans – have made no secret of their support for such legislation.

“For many, many years, we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told Albuquerque radio station KKOB last year. “I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.”

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told WYNC’s Bryan Lehrer Show in 2007, “I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there and I also think equal time doctrine ought to come back.”

Last June, John Gizzi reported in Human Events a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in which he asked her if she personally supported revival of the policy.

“Yes,” Pelosi answered.

And as recently as December, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. – who serves on the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – told the Palo Alto Daily Post she still believes in the “Fairness Doctrine” and will work on bringing it back.

“It should and will affect everyone,” Eshoo pledged.

Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has said, “Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible.”

But the debate heated up again recently when Obama singled out Rush Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, for criticism: “You can’t just listen to c and get things done.”

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Darwin Day ‘thumb-in-the-eye to creationists’

FROM WND

More than 600 events worldwide mark 200th birthday of father of evolution

Charles Darwin

An atheist group counts 649 events in 42 countries celebrating the 200th anniversary today of the birth of the father of modern evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin.

From an “Evolution Palooza” at the San Francisco Public Library to a book reading in India, the worldwide Darwin Day Celebration – administered by the Institute for Humanist Studies – is “part birthday bash, part thumb-in-the-eye to creationists, part opportunity for publishers rolling out Darwin books like sausages,” says USA Today.

At least one creationist, best-selling author and TV-host Ray Comfort, plans to return the favor by debating atheists on several national and international radio programs.

Autographed copies of Ray Comfort’s new book, published by WND Books, are available exclusively in WND’s online superstore.

Comfort will debate David Silverman, national spokesman for the group American Atheists, on the Alan Colmes radio show from 11 p.m. to 11:20 p.m. Eastern Time tonight. On Canadian radio station CFMJ he takes on atheist Scott Campbell from 7:30 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. Eastern Time. Across the Atlantic, the BBC show “Paul Coletti World Update” will feature a debate with Comfort that was recorded earlier this week.

Comfort’s new title by WND Books, “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think,” is scheduled for release today. Comfort is the author of 60 books and the co-host of “The Way of the Master,” a weekly television show about personal evangelism with actor Kirk Cameron, star of the hit movie “Fireproof.”

The official website of the Darwin Day Celebration says the event “provides a new global holiday that transcends separate nationalities and cultures.”

“Darwin Day can be celebrated in many different ways: civic ceremonies with official proclamations, educational symposia, birthday parties, art shows, book discussions, lobby days, games, protests, and dinner parties,” the organization says.

“In Darwin Day, we are able to recognize the diversity among us, while celebrating our common humanity and the universal understanding we share.”

A celebration at Charlie’s Playhouse studio in Pawtucket, R.I., promised a “fun and festive afternoon for kids and adults” featuring live music, “fun evolution games, door prizes, demonstrations of how we make our Giant Timelines, a champagne/sparkling cider toast, tasty food and yes, a cake with 200 candles.”

The “Evolutionpalooza!” – sponsored by San Francisco Atheists – invited “fellow primates” last weekend to come for a “great afternoon of fun, food, music, games and evolution” that included special guest Eugenie Scott of the Nation Center for Science Education, a leading activist against the teaching of creation theory and intelligent design in public schools.

At the Texas Natural Science Center in Austin, Texas, a Darwin Day celebration featured a sandbox with hidden fossils that children “excavated,” the Daily Texan reported.

“There are people with babies and young children here, and we have activities for them, but the event also focuses on current, relevant research,” said Christina Cid, the center’s director of education.

Academic freedom

In a counter-offensive to Darwin Day, many students nationwide are using the occasion to declare Feb. 12 “Academic Freedom Day,” according to the Idaho Values Alliance.

The non-profit group says the event was developed “in response to the growing repression of dissent about Darwinian dogma in science curricula at all levels of education.”

As an example, the group said, then-University of Idaho president Timothy P. White issued an edict in October 2005 declaring evolution is “the only curriculum that is appropriate to be taught in our bio-physical sciences.”

The Idaho group said the declaration essentially muzzled the voice of a leading advocate of intelligent design theory, Scott Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology at the university.

More than 750 Ph.D. scientists have signed a statement declaring their skepticism that random mutation and natural selection can explain the complexity of life and urging that Darwinian theory be carefully examined, the group noted.

Students with Intelligent Design & Evolution Awareness clubs at three Idaho schools – Boise State University, Northwest Nazarene University and the College of Idaho – are sponsoring booths on campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today to discuss evolution and encourage the signing of a petition urging academic freedom.

As WND reported, in the run-up to Darwin Day the Madison, Wisc.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation posted billboards in at least 15 states with messages such as “Imagine no Religion” and “Praise Darwin – Evolve Beyond Belief.”

FFRF said it placed a billboard just outside Grand Junction, Colo., because town officials rejected a proposal by a local atheist to proclaim a day honoring Darwin.

“Charles Darwin gets a bad rap in America, and we want to counter that,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “It’s an intellectual blot on our country that more than 50 percent of Americans reject evolution. The Darwin bicentennial is a chance to celebrate reality, to move our nation forward, to return to the Enlightenment.”

Last summer, the Western Colorado Atheists challenged Grand Junction’s longstanding practice of starting City Council meetings with a prayer, leading city leaders to drop the invocation on the advice of an attorney, the Colorado Independent reported.

Gaylor wrote a letter in November demanding county commissioners do the same, according to the Independent, asserting prayers are unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive.

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New ‘Fairness Doctrine’ threatens Christian radio

FROM WND

Would Gospel need to be ‘balanced’ with Islamic, atheist programming?


Frank Wright

WASHINGTON – As the National Religious Broadcasters convened today in Nashville, an ominous shroud cast by political chatter about the reimposition of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” in the nation’s capital hung over the gathering.

NRB President Frank Wright said he sees the move as a credible threat under a Democrat-dominated Congress and with President Obama in the White House.

“And we have a personal concern,” Wright told Broadcasting & Cable. “The only radio station that ever lost its license under the fairness doctrine regime was a Christian radio station in Red Lion, Pa. We are only responding now to the statements the Democrats themselves are making.”

Representing 1,400 organizations, including large ministries and TV and radio stations, NRB said it is “girding itself for a major battle over broadcasting freedoms,” and was prepared to go to court, lobby Congress, or take its message to the public.

“We have talked before about many of these issues, but now, with the shift in the political landscape, I think these same things have a much higher probability of being enacted or at least having legislation and hearings and debates, and on the regulation side at the FCC,” said Wright.

Fight back against the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Sign WND’s Petition to Block Congressional Attacks on Freedom of Speech and Press now!

He said the new political climate doesn’t just threaten broadcasters, but even churches that have no broadcast outlet.

“The fairness doctrine has a tremendous potential for constraining free speech, but hate crimes (legislation) has the potential of criminalizing it,” he said. “In the short run, the fairness doctrine has the immediate threat of being applied to Christian broadcasters and to the church in a very deleterious way. Hate crimes legislation, if that is enacted, will evolve over time and bleed over into speech and have a negative effect, but not right away. The fairness doctrine will have a negative impact the day it is implemented.”

He said he expects religious broadcasters, largely Christian, to be particularly hard hit because of the doctrine’s requirement for so-called “balance.” If an opposing view must be found for every matter of controversy, Christian broadcasters could find themselves in the unenviable and untenable position of seeking out other religious viewpoints – Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist – to counter what ministers of the Gospel say on the air.

“I have had a number of conversations with NRB members who operated under the old ‘Fairness Doctrine’ regime,” he said. “What happens is there is a chilling of free speech because the license-holder tends to take off the air the programmer whose content is deemed to be controversial.”

This weekend’s meeting will offer up ideas about fighting back the prospects of government-controlled speech on the airwaves.

“I don’t want to tip our hands on strategy except to say that if the approach taken by the administration is an FCC approach, we believe we can bring enough pressure to bear on the commission at the point of enactment to bring enough heat to get them to see the light, so to speak,” he said. “I don’t think we can stop it in the House or Senate.”

Just last week another Democratic U.S. senator went on record as supporting the reinstatement of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” adding, “I feel like that’s gonna happen.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told radio host and WND columnist Bill Press \ when asked about whether it was time to bring back the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”: “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.”

Stabenow’s husband, Tom Athans, was executive vice president of the left-leaning talk radio network Air America. He left the network in 2006, when it filed for bankruptcy, and co-founded the TalkUSA Radio Network.

Asked by Press if she could be counted on to push for hearings in the Senate this year “to bring these (radio station) owners in and hold them accountable,” Stabenow replied: “I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.”

Meanwhile, as WND has previously reported, other Democratic legislators have tried to claim talk about a reintroduction of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” is merely conspiracy-mongering by right-wing talk radio and its partisan cheerleaders.

But other Democrats in the Senate and House – and even a few Republicans – have made no secret of their support for such legislation.

“For many, many years, we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told Albuquerque radio station KKOB last year. “I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.”

Tell your government no to the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Sign WND’s Petition to Block Congressional Attacks on Freedom of Speech and Press now!

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told WYNC’s Bryan Lehrer Show in 2007, “I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there and I also think equal time doctrine ought to come back.”

In June of last year, John Gizzi reported in Human Events a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in which he asked her if she personally supported revival of the “Fairness Doctrine.”

“Yes,” Pelosi answered.

And as recently as December, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. – who serves on the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – told the Palo Alto Daily Post she still believes in the “Fairness Doctrine” and will work on bringing it back.

“It should and will affect everyone,” Eshoo pledged.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told Broadcasting & Cable during the presidential election campaign, “Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible.”

But the debate heated up again recently when Obama singled out Rush Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, for criticism: “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”

As WND reported, the Democratic National Congressional Committee also launched a petition to reprimand Limbaugh directly for his criticism of Obama.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Bush appointee whose term runs through June, however, warned that Democrats may be adopting a stealthier approach to shutting down conservatives on talk radio.

In a speech to the Media Institute in Washington, Multichannel News reports, McDowell suggested there are efforts to implement the controversial policy without using the red-flagged “Fairness Doctrine” label.

“That’s just Marketing 101,” McDowell explained. “If your brand is controversial, make it a new brand.”

Instead, McDowell alleged, Democrats will try to disguise their efforts in the name of localism, diversity or network neutrality.

McDowell further suggested that the FCC may already be gearing up to enforce the “Fairness Doctrine” through community advisory boards that help determine local programming. While radio stations use the boards on a voluntary basis now, McDowell warned if the advisory panels become mandatory, “Would not such a policy be akin to a re-imposition of the Doctrine, albeit under a different name and sales pitch?”

And while Republicans’ prediction of “Fairness Doctrine” legislation remains unfulfilled and highly speculative, a WND investigation has revealed that McDowell and Walden aren’t just fear-mongering, as some have suggested. A think tank headed by John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, mapped out a strategy in 2007 for clamping down on talk radio using language that has since been parroted by both the Obama campaign and the new administration’s White House website.

In June of 2007, Podesta’s Center for American Progress released a report titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” detailing the conservative viewpoint’s dominance on the airwaves and proposing steps for leveling the playing field.

“Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system,” the report reads, “particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.”

The report then demonstrates how radio stations owned locally, or operated by female and minority owners, are statistically more likely to carry liberal political talk shows.

Therefore, the report concludes, the answer to getting equal time for “progressives” lies in mandating “localism” and “diversity” without ever needing to mention the “Fairness Doctrine.”

To accomplish the strategy, the report recommends legislating local and national caps on ownership of commercial radio stations and demanding radio stations regularly prove to the FCC that they are “operating on behalf of the public interest” to maintain their broadcasting license.

And if stations are unwilling to abide by the FCC’s new regulatory standards, the report recommends, they should pay spectrum-use fees directly to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting “with clear mandates to support local news and public affairs programming and to cover controversial and political issues in a fair and balanced manner.”

In this way, the report concludes, between $100 million and $250 million could be raised for public radio, which will be compelled to broadcast via the old standards established by the “Fairness Doctrine.”

Since the report’s release in 2007, the Obama camp has twice gone on record advocating positions identical to Podesta’s think tank.

Last summer, in denying the presidential candidate’s support of the “Fairness Doctrine,” Obama’s press secretary said, “Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets.”

Further, the White House website lists on its technology agenda page that the president plans to “encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation’s spectrum.”

The president’s position and proposals match the language of his transition co-chair’s think tank report almost word-for-word.

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stimulus package bans religious worship

FROM WND

‘This isn’t like a convenient oversight, this is intentional’

By Bob Unruh

President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus plan makes a deliberate – and unconstitutional – attempt to censor religious speech and worship on school campuses across the nation, according to a lawyer who argued related cases before the U.S. Supreme Court 20 years ago and won them all.

“This isn’t like a convenient oversight. This is intentional. This legislation pokes its finger in the eyes of people who hold religious beliefs,” Jay Sekulow, chief of the American Center for Law and Justice, told WND today.

His was the organization that decades ago argued on behalf of speech freedom on school campuses, winning repeatedly at the U.S. Supreme Court. Since then, the 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School District decision was added, clarifying that restricting religious speech within the context of public shared-use facilities is unconstitutional.

The problem in the proposed stimulus bill comes from a provision that states: “PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS. – No funds awarded under this section may be used for – (C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities – (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.”

The wording that specifically targets religious speech already has been approved by the majority Democrats in the U.S. House – all GOP members opposed it. In the Senate, Jim DeMint, R-S.C., proposed an amendment to eliminate it, but again majority Democrats decided to keep the provision targeting religious instruction and activities.

Critics argued schools would accept any money offered, then impose a ban on religious events.

DeMint warned organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel and other religious groups would face new bans on access to public facilities that would not apply to other organizations.

“This is a direct attack on students of faith, and I’m outraged Democrats are using an economic stimulus bill to promote discrimination,” DeMint said. “Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for siding with the ACLU over millions of students of faith.”

DeMint’s comments have been posted online

“These students simply want equal access to public facilities, which is their constitutional right. This hostility toward religion must end. Those who voted to for this discrimination are standing in the schoolhouse door to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill,” said DeMint.

The senator said the stimulus bill now becomes an “ACLU stimulus” that has the goal of triggering lawsuits “designed to intimidate religious organizations across the nation.”

“This language is so vague, it’s not clear if students can even pray in a dorm room renovated with this funding since that is a form of ‘religious worship.’ If this provision remains in the bill, it will have a chilling effect on students of faith in America,” he said.

DeMint cited Obama’s statement at the National Prayer Breakfast this week that faith “can promote a greater good for all of us.”

“This provision is an assault against both. It’s un-American and it’s unconstitutional. Intolerant and it’s intolerable,” DeMint said.

The ban on religious organizations is linked to the $3.5 billion intended for “renovation of public or private college and university facilities.”

The ACLJ, which focuses on constitutional law, said the provision “has nothing to do with economic stimulus and everything to do with religious discrimination.”

“The thing is I litigated these cases on these exact issues 20 years ago,” Sekulow told WND. “Not only did we win, two of the decisions were unanimous and the other was 8-1.

“We’re seeing a rollback to the 1970s regarding church-state relations,” he said. “That’s what is troubling. It is a complete rollback that now institutionalizes discrimination through targeting religion.”

Sekulow said he already is drafting a complaint that will challenge the constitutionality of the provision, to be used if it isn’t removed.

He said under current court precedents, it will be a open-and-shut victory.

However, he also warned that the problem is the damage that can be done within the probable four years it would take to get the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court and what that court would look like at that point.

Under Obama, he said, “there will be an ideology shift.” New appointments to the bench by Obama, he said, would be “much more left of where Justices (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and (Stephen) Breyer are.”

On an online forums page, readers were incensed.

  • “Here comes the assault against Christian churches … Looks like he’s trying to see how much damage he can do in the briefest period of time.”
  • “Obama is the most dangerous man of our times, period. He will seek to overturn everything our nation was built upon, personal freedom, capitalism, even the rock of faith. And he will seek to do it from within, openly, overtly and boldly. Will Christians now respond to this dangerous man in a strong, unified way? Or will Obama succeed in destroying the fabric of the greatest nation in human history?”.
  • “He’s just following the Saul Alinsky rule (in his book, Rules for Radicals) to ‘clothe everything you do in morality’ because this is what most effectively fools the ‘middle class’ into agreeing with what you want to do.”

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Atheists abandon attempt to ban baptisms

FROM WND

‘Americans should be aware such lawsuits may seem far-fetched, but are happening’


Italy has a large Catholic population

An atheism-promoting organization has withdrawn its lawsuit demanding Christian baptisms of children be banned in Italy after a U.S.-based legal team took on the defense of a bishop and the Roman Catholic Church there.

“This was a preposterous lawsuit, and we are pleased that it has been dropped,” said Joseph Infranco, a senior counsel for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.

However, he said, “Americans should be aware that such lawsuits may seem far-fetched, but they really are happening … and foreign legal decisions are increasingly cited in American courts.”

The ADF stepped into the battle when the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics filed a lawsuit seeking an end to all baptisms of children in Italy. The organization alleged the practice encroached on its religious freedom and violated Italian Constitutional Court precedents regarding free will and personal privacy in religious decisions.

The organization alleged the law does not allow parents to enroll their children in certain groups such as trade unions, therefore, the law also “does not allow, as well, that the parents may decide their children become members of a religious association.”

The Alliance Defense Fund reported the plaintiff in the case was demanding that his name be erased from a baptism registry in what was described as a type of “debaptism.”

But the petition was withdrawn just before a court hearing was to take place.

Gianfranco Amato, an ADF-allied attorney, said the plaintiff became convinced that the nation’s legal precedents would not support such demands.

“It’s unthinkable to ask the government to force the church to abandon one of its sacraments to appease a radical, anti-religious agenda, yet that’s what this activist group did,” said Amato.

“According to Italian law, the demand to remove a name from the register must be made by an individual with a personal interest, rather than by a private association such as the UAAR,” said Amato. “Also, it was easy to demonstrate that the group had no legal leg on which to stand.”

Infranco said, “All parents have the right to raise their children in their religious tradition, which obviously includes participation in the historic rituals associated with that religion.”

The website for the atheist organization is in Italian, but an English translation describes the group as being based on the values of human rights, democracy, pluralism, equality and individuality.

The website has been highlighted among a listing of resources on the website of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins.

Del.icio.us : , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , ,
Technorati : , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , ,

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.