A Georgia school district has launched an investigation into the mass baptism of a football coach and some of his players on the grounds of Villa Rica High School last month after a protest campaign was launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation when video from the event was made public.
The video of the baptisms, which was shot by a staff member of First Baptist Villa Rica church and posted to YouTube, has since been removed but a copy is available in this Fox News report.
"We had the privilege of baptizing a bunch of football players and a coach on the field of Villa Rica High School! We did this right before practice! Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!" the caption of the video read on YouTube before it was removed, according to 11 Alive. more >>
After a statue of the Ten Commandments was officially approved to be erected on the grounds of the Arkansas state capitol last month, a Wisconsin-based group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation is demanding that a statue be erected representing atheism.
While the Ten Commandments commands Christians to honor "the Lord thy God," the FFRF statue would offer the opposite, "there are no gods."
"There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no Heaven or Hell. There is only our natural world," the statue would read, according to a letter sent to Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the bill in April. "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds. Freedom depends on freethinkers. Keep state and church separate." more >>
Lawyers from Americans United for Separation of Church and State are warning public officials in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. that extensive preparation at taxpayers' expense for Pope Francis' visit later this month is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Quoting an appeals court ruling, such aid is the type of "specific evil" the First Amendment "was designed to prevent," the group said.
The organization, which advocates for a strict separation view of the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment, sent a letter to the mayors of the respective cities and the heads of the Secret Service, National Park Service and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority on Monday "to provide guidance on the constitutional limitations on governmental support of and involvement with the papal visit."
"Specifically, government bodies must not provide any aid to a Pope's religious activities that goes beyond the provision of services — such as police, safety, and security — that are regularly given for comparable public events of a similar size," states the letter, which was signed by the group's legal director Alex Luchenitser and legal fellow John McGinnis. more >>
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a statue of Jesus Christ located on a mountaintop memorial to World War II veterans is constitutional.
In a Monday decision, the judges upheld a district court ruling that allowed for "Big Mountain Jesus" to remain at Flathead National Forest near Kalispell, Montana.
The judges concluded that while the 60-year-old statue did have a religious appearance, the display has some purposes that are secular in nature. more >>
HBO host Bill Maher challenged GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum in an interview on his show on Friday to explain why Maher, as an atheist, backs Pope Francis in his stance on climate change, and why Santorum, as a Roman Catholic, does not.
"What I want to ask is, I mean, I'm not a Catholic, I'm an atheist," Maher said. "But I like the pope better than you do. You're saying the pope should stick to what he knows, and I find that ridiculous."
In June, Pope Francis released the 184-page "Laudato Si,'" or "Praise Be to You" encyclical," which tackled the way man-made climate change affects the world, such as the damage it inflicts on the poorest populations. more >>
A Kentucky high school has defied an atheist group's demand that the school keep prayer out of its pre-football game festivities, as the school kicked off its 2015 football season with a student-led invocation last Friday.
Prior to August 2011, Bell County High School practiced a long-standing tradition of letting a Christian pastor lead in a pre-game prayer over the stadium's public-address system as a way of asking God to keep the student-athletes safe.
But after the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest atheist organization, filed a complaint with the school district's then-Superintendent George Thompson, and threatened to file a lawsuit, school officials decided to end the prayer tradition to avoid costly litigation. more >>