A bill introduced in the Ohio Legislature would allow for individuals of any religion, or none at all, to solemnize marriages in the state.
Known as Ohio House Bill 591, the proposed legislation would expand the range of people who can solemnize a marriage, including non-theists.
"Any other person or entity that wishes to solemnize marriages shall register with the secretary of state and the secretary of state shall issue a license authorizing the person or entity to solemnize marriages in this state," reads HB 591 in part. more >>
Dan Courtney, the atheist selected to deliver the invocation at Tuesday's town board meeting in Greece, New York, focused his brief speech on the Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence.
Courtney, a mechanical engineer from Hamlin, requested to deliver the convocation in Greece shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the city in May, saying that sectarian prayers at town board meetings were constitutionally permissible, as long as board members didn't discriminate against other faiths.
While delivering his invocation, Courtney, a former president of the Free Thinkers of Upstate New York, focused his brief speech on the Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence. more >>
A federal judge this week threw out a lawsuit by a local atheist group against the Orange County school district in Florida. The atheist group had sued the district for censoring some of its reading materials meant to be distributed to students.
Senior Judge Kendall Sharpe wrote in his opinion that he decided to throw out the lawsuit due to a change in school policy. The local atheist group Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) had previously sued the Orange County school district, accusing it of discrimination and violation of free speech after it had refused to allow the atheist group to distribute certain books on school campuses.
The atheist group argued that because the World Changers of Florida evangelical group was able to distribute Bibles without censorship, it too should be allowed to distribute the books it chooses. The school had deemed one of the atheist group's books, entitled An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity In The Bible, as inappropriate. more >>
New-age author and physician Deepak Chopra has offered prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins a $1 million prize challenge to offer a scientific explanation for the biological basis of thoughts and ideas.
Addressing what he called a "tribe of militant new atheists," naming Dawkins, James Randi, and Daniel Dennett, Chopra announced the challenge in a video uploaded on Youtube earlier this week.
"Can you please offer a scientific understanding for the biological basis of a first-person experience? Any experience – mental experience, or perceptual experience. So for cognition, or for perception. And I'll even make it more simple. Can you offer a scientific understanding for the biological basis of an idea, a thought?" Chopra asks in the video. more >>
A federal appeals court in Indiana has ruled to allow humanists in the state to have their weddings officiated by a secular celebrant.
A three judge panel with the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that humanists should be allowed to have their weddings officiated by secularist celebrants, arguing that preventing them from doing so violated the First Amendment rights to freedom of religion. Previously, Indiana's law stated that marriages could only be performed by religious clergy or government officials, such as mayors and city clerks.
"This is a big step forward in recognizing the rights of nonreligious persons," Reba Boyd Wooden, executive director for the Center for Inquiry, a humanist group, said in a press release. "Now couples may have a Secular Celebrant who shares their world view solemnize their marriage." more >>
Just months after the New York town of Greece won a Supreme Court ruling permitting it to open its community meetings with sectarian prayer, an atheist is set to lead the invocation on Tuesday night.
Dan Courtney, whom the Associated Press identifies as a mechanical engineer and a member of the Atheist Community of Rochester, made his request to Greece leaders following the Supreme Court decision in May.
In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the highest court ruled 5 to 4 that Greece could select Christian ministers to offer explicitely Christian prayers before their town meetings. more >>