Two lawmakers in Minnesota have recently introduced bills that would amend the state statute on civil marriages to allow nonbelievers to legally preside over weddings in the state.
A House version of the bill, known as House File 2966 and titled "Marriage solemnization by atheist and humanist celebrants authorized," was introduced by State Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Nicolett Island) in March and is currently before the House Civil Law Committee. The bill requests that the wording of current state law be changed to allow atheists and humanists to officiate civil marriages in the state. A Senate version of the bill, SF 2958, was introduced by Minnesota State Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) last week.
Minnesota's current law states that "ministers of any religious denomination … are authorized to solemnize a civil marriage" after they file their credentials with the local county clerk. The new bills would add language to the existing law to allow "any other celebrant," specifically naming atheists or humanists, to do the same. more >>
Some 75 atheists showed up in Salt Lake City, Utah, this past weekend to march near the city's Temple Square during the bi-annual Mormon General Conference, with some marchers filing their resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the event.
The "Mormon exodus" event was led by Atheists of Utah and the national American Atheists organization on Sunday. Marchers sought to encourage atheists in the LDS Church who may be afraid to "come out."
"The pressure from the Mormon church to stay silent about doubt is fundamentally immoral – it is bad for the members and for society at large, benefiting only the church and its hierarchy. That is why we're organizing this mass resignation," American Atheists President David Silverman said. "We are saying to closeted atheists, 'Utah is home to over a million atheists who live their lives without worrying about shunning or other types of discrimination. If you know you're not a Mormon, be truthful and say so, resign, and come to our convention the weekend of the 17th. Freedom of thought and expression is a great reason to celebrate.'" more >>
DALLAS — Members of Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., staged several protests in Oklahoma and Texas over the weekend where they faced counter protesters, including a group of 2,000 who rallied against them in Moore, Okla., Sunday.
Holding signs that read "God hates fags," "American is Doomed" and "God's Fury" citing Nahum 1:3, WBC claimed that a tornado that struck the town last May and left many residents homeless was punishment from God for abortion, homosexuality and "phony Christians" mocking the Creator.
Although WBC obtained a permit to picket outside Central Junior High for 30 minutes Sunday, they were quickly rushed back to their vehicles to leave the premises after 10 minutes of picketing when six men in the counter protest rushed toward them. more >>
Noah and God's Not Dead were among the top four grossing movies in a weekend that saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier take in $96.2 million.
Noah dropped one spot off its March 28 weekend first place finish, grossing $17 million, less than half of the $43 million it took in following its premiere. Thus far, the Darren Aronofsky biblical epic has grossed $72.3 million, leading Box Office Mojo to suggest that "while it will eventually pass $100 million, it probably won't be by much."
The low-budget Christian film God's Not Dead finished fourth, up from two consecutive fifth place finishes. In a weekend in which it expanded to 1,758 theaters, up 1,000 screens from its premiere weekend, the film took in $7.7 million, a 12 percent drop. more >>
A human rights group has decried Saudi Arabia's new sweeping set of laws aimed at counter-terrorism, arguing that they greatly stunt any religious or political expression that appears to criticize the government or Islam.
The new laws, approved by Saudi King Abdullah, calls for prison sentences of three to 20 years for any form of terrorist activity, defined as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based."
The new list of decrees also defines the Muslim Brotherhood and some al-Qaeda factions as terrorist organizations. more >>
A character who leaves behind his atheist convictions in the recently released God's Not Dead movie was inspired by the real-life Lasik and cataract surgeon, Tennessee resident Wing Mang.
Wang, a native of China, endured the country's Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, which sent millions of its better-educated and professional citizens to hard labor camps.
In 1982, Wang immigrated to the United States, equipped with little more than $50 and a Chinese-English dictionary. He eventually was accepted to Harvard Medical School, from which he graduated with honors, and later became one of the first surgeons in the United States to perform laser cataract surgeon. more >>