A police chief in Arkansas is refusing to remove a small white cross from the lawn of the local police department after an atheist group demanded he do so. The police chief has argued that residents do not find the cross offensive and therefore it will not be removed.
The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted Jeremy Clark, police chief of the Searcy Police Department, asking that he remove the small wooden cross from the front lawn of the department, arguing that its presence is a violation of Separation of Church and State. The FFRF claims it was contacted by a local resident who feels too intimidated to directly request the police department remove the cross.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told the local KARK-TV that her organization has asked Clark to remove the cross from the property on multiple occasions. Clark told the local media outlet that he doesn't plan to remove the cross just because an organization from another state has told him to. Clark also added that the cross was already there when he took his position as police chief in February 2013. more >>
The secular group Center For Inquiry says it has received much support after announcing its newest initiative to send "freethought" books to prisoners as an alternative to faith-based outreach.
CFI identified publishing companies Beacon Press and Pitchstone Publishing as among the first to show their support for the initiative, which was announced in December, and a number of authors have already sent their atheist-themed books to help out.
"Religious fundamentalism can leave people morally disempowered and psychologically traumatized. Outside of prison settings, former believers, sometimes called 'Reclaimers,' are finding each other –getting support and information that allows them to heal and to recognize that they don't have to depend on gods to make positive, life affirming choices. I believe that prisoners deserve the same opportunity," said Valerie Tarico, author of Trusting Doubt, who sent 20 copies of her book for the project. more >>
A New Jersey-based atheist organization has filed a lawsuit calling for the removal of a 2,000 pound Ten Commandments display from the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City.
American Atheists filed the suit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission that placed the monument at the capitol in 2012.
"This action challenges the constitutionality, under federal law, of the state of Oklahoma's placement of a massive monument displaying an abridgement of a portion of religious text originating from a Hollywood movie director's rendition of one of many versions from the Bible," reads the suit in part. more >>
After posting herself as an "auction item" on eBay for a chance to attend a Christian church, Eve Brannon of South Carolina-based Upstate Atheists said her ad was removed multiple times by the company without explanation, deterring the purpose of her auction meant to raise funds for her organization's charitable events.
"I feel like they [eBay] didn't like the ad so they removed it. Each ad has notes about it for the staff to see. The notes about our ad specifically stated that it violated no policies, yet it was still removed," said Brannon to The Christian Post.
Brannon's "Take an Atheist Leader to Church" auction was removed days after she initially published it. However, she posted it again, prompting eBay to take it back down for a second and third time. more >>
A Hawaii court has dismissed two churches from a lawsuit that atheists brought against five congregations in the Aloha State accusing them of defrauding the government. The atheists failed to produce evidence.
The court found that atheists Mitchell Kahle and Holly Huber failed to sufficiently allege that One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu committed fraud by paying substandard rent to the public schools in which they meet, Alliance Defending Freedom, whose attorneys represented the two congregations, said in a statement Friday.
Kahle, the founder of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State, and public advocate Huber made the accusation despite the school districts agreeing that the churches have consistently paid all agreed-upon rents, said ADF, which has nearly 2,300 allied attorneys. more >>
Teacher and atheist blogger Hemant Mehta finally found a home for his rejected $3,000 donation this week when the Niles Township Food Pantry agreed to accept the money. The donation was previously rejected by the Morton Grove Park District and the Morton Grove Library.
Charles Levy, clerk of the Niles Township, a suburb near Chicago, Ill., confirmed this week that the Niles Township Food Pantry had cashed Mehta's check for $3,000. "It went through like any other donation," Levy said on Jan. 7, according to the Morton Grove Champion. "It was labeled as a contribution to the food pantry, so there was no reason to treat it differently. We deposited it a few days ago."
Before this week, Mehta's $3,000 donation was rejected by two other groups over the course of two months. Mehta first raised the money as a donation for the Morton Grove Park District, after the local chapter of the American Legion cut its annual $2,600 funding to the department because one of its commissioners, Dan Ashta, refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The park district rejected Mehta's donation, which he had raised from donors online, saying that it did not want to accept the money and possibly become involved in a "First Amendment dispute." more >>